Restructuring Effects of Information Technology Platforms in Heterogeneous Work Contexts
Building on studies on the use of digital platforms in the gig economy and in traditional corporate contexts, I would like to take a look at the restructuring effects of IT architectures in heterogeneous work environments from the perspective of the sociology of technology. From this perspective, the way in which the platformization and informatization of work plays out on a case-by-case basis depends on the concrete modes of implementation and the given socioeconomic constellations. Whether the introduction of digital work platforms makes a large company as “agile as a start-up” or whether bureaucratic processes intensify in the course of the process depends to a good extend on previously established decision-making and exchange patterns. Against this background, I plan to investigate the interplay of technology development and technology adoption in novel work contexts (e.g., cloudwork, gigwork) and more classical workplace contexts (e.g., automobile manufacturers) in order to elaborate the ambivalences (e.g., decoupling—interdependence, transparency—control, flexibilization—standardization) of platform-centered work coordination.
The reconfiguration processes that have been triggered by the introduction of IT-based coordination structures in the respective work contexts will be addressed from a techno-sociological point of view. The focus is on three questions:
(1) What are the qualities of platform-centered work and labor that go beyond the enhancement of automation processes that have already been initiated?
(2) To what extent do the effects of information technology coordination structures differ in the observed work contexts? What are the repercussions of the socioeconomic adoption and use of information technology platforms from case to case?
(3) How do the concrete modes of implementation and social negotiation processes in the introduction of new platform-centric practices differ in the observed work environments?
Empirical and conceptual work will be intertwined. In this way, typical forms of change in technology-supported work coordination as well as new balances between technical and social structuring services in the observed work contexts are to be worked out, which substantially go beyond an enhancement of automation processes already initiated before. In comparative reconstructive case studies, which are based on a systematic analysis of documents and market data as well as problem-centered interviews, the restructuring effects of information technology supported coordination structures as well as the reaction and adaptation patterns of the actors involved will be investigated. The empirical insights gained will be typologized and conceptually condensed in order to identify the novel qualities of platform-centered coordination of heterogeneous work contexts in the digital society as well as the ambivalences that accompany the respective reorganization processes.