miércoles, 9 de diciembre de 2015

"Labor in the Global Digital Economy: The Cybertariat Comes of Age" - by Ursula Huws

Labor in the Global Digital Economy: The Cybertariat Comes of AgeLabor in the Global Digital Economy: The Cybertariat Comes of Age by Ursula Huws
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Sometimes, I decide to read books without any additional reason that a catchy word in the title. This book is one of those cases. I discovered it by chance reading an article about the gig economy. I do not remember the article, but the usage of the term "Cybertariat" immediately captured my curiosity. It is difficult to imagine a better word to define the emerging class of digital workers. As you can imagine, I felt an imminent urgency to read the book that was mentioned in the footnote as the first book where the term appeared (according with the version of the author of the article, of course). That book was "Labor in the global digital economy. The Cybertariat comes of age".

The books has an excellent title, but also quite valuable contents. It is composed of seven essays that explores the impact of the introduction of technology on the labour relationships. One appealing thing of the book style is that the approach of the analysis is mainly based on the classical definitions of labour, the creation of value, surplus, commoditization and other elements that can be found in the books of Marx, Ricardo, Adam Smith and other XIX century economists.

Although all the chapters deserve a reading, I would like to recommend particularly the first essay and the essay before the last. Both of them are about different topics so can give you an idea of the multifaceting of the book. The article called "What will we do?" explores the reasons why ICTs provoke a continuous pressure towards the dissapearance of jobs characterised by stability and the demand of high skils. The essay "Crisis as a capitalist opportunity" describes why ICTs serve as a support for the commoditisation and privatisation of Public Services.

Maybe you have alredy reached the conclusion that the book is a luddite pamphlet. If that is the case you would be in an error. The book is quite neutral and descriptive about what is happening and even put forward in some essays some solutions for a more social-friendly adoption of ICT in the working environment. It doesn´t mean that the book does not reflects a concrete ideology. However, whatever are your political ideas, this is a book you should read if you are interested in digital economy policy making.

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