PhD Defense: Gemma Newlands (University of Amsterdam)

22 June 2023 | 16:00hrs | Agnietenkapel
Supervisors: Mark Deuze; Christian Fieseler

As new occupations emerge in response to the growth of the digital economy, the relationship between digital technology and labour has resulted in significant changes in how work is evaluated. By critically examining the ways in which humans and artificial intelligence (AI) are co-evolving and the ways in which work is becoming more technical and less human(e), this dissertation provides insights into the challenges and opportunities of this rapidly changing landscape. The integrated dissertation offers six distinct and self-standing articles which provide theoretical, empirical and methodological contributions to understanding the process of work evaluation in the digital economy. Taking a micro-level approach, I present the results of a qualitative interview study that I conducted with app-based food delivery couriers in Norway and Sweden on the topics of workplace recognition and perceived employability. I then take a meso-level approach by examining companies utilizing digitally mediated labour, investigating how these organizations surveil, measure and advertise the human labour they depend on. Finally, to address the macro-level societal perceptions, I detail the results of a quantitative study into the perceived occupational prestige and perceived occupational social value for a comprehensive and robust list of occupations, including those in the digital economy. This work is framed as a contribution that speaks to different audiences, primarily sociologists and other social scientists, but also policymakers, business leaders, and the general public, who all have a stake in understanding the implications of AI in the workplace.