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Counting ‘micro-workers’: societal and methodological challenges around new forms of labour

Author

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  • Paola Tubaro

    () (TAU - TAckling the Underspecified - Inria Saclay - Ile de France - Inria - Institut National de Recherche en Informatique et en Automatique - LRI - Laboratoire de Recherche en Informatique - CentraleSupélec - Université Paris-Saclay - CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, LRI - Laboratoire de Recherche en Informatique - CentraleSupélec - Université Paris-Saclay - CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, IDHES - Institutions et Dynamiques Historiques de l'Économie et de la Société - ENS Cachan - École normale supérieure - Cachan - UP1 - Université Panthéon-Sorbonne - UP8 - Université Paris 8 Vincennes-Saint-Denis - UPN - Université Paris Nanterre - CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique - UEVE - Université d'Évry-Val-d'Essonne)

  • Clément Le Ludec

    (I3, une unité mixte de recherche CNRS (UMR 9217) - Institut interdisciplinaire de l’innovation - X - École polytechnique - Télécom ParisTech - MINES ParisTech - École nationale supérieure des mines de Paris - PSL - Université Paris sciences et lettres - CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, SES - Département Sciences Economiques et Sociales - Télécom ParisTech, IP Paris - Institut Polytechnique de Paris, SID - Sociologie Information-Communication Design - I3, une unité mixte de recherche CNRS (UMR 9217) - Institut interdisciplinaire de l’innovation - X - École polytechnique - Télécom ParisTech - MINES ParisTech - École nationale supérieure des mines de Paris - PSL - Université Paris sciences et lettres - CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique)

  • Antonio Casilli

    () (I3, une unité mixte de recherche CNRS (UMR 9217) - Institut interdisciplinaire de l’innovation - X - École polytechnique - Télécom ParisTech - MINES ParisTech - École nationale supérieure des mines de Paris - PSL - Université Paris sciences et lettres - CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, SES - Département Sciences Economiques et Sociales - Télécom ParisTech, IP Paris - Institut Polytechnique de Paris, SID - Sociologie Information-Communication Design - I3, une unité mixte de recherche CNRS (UMR 9217) - Institut interdisciplinaire de l’innovation - X - École polytechnique - Télécom ParisTech - MINES ParisTech - École nationale supérieure des mines de Paris - PSL - Université Paris sciences et lettres - CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique)

Abstract

'Micro-work' consists of fragmented data tasks that myriad providers execute on online platforms. While crucial to the development of data-based technologies, this little visible and geographically spread activity is particularly difficult to measure. To fill this gap, we combined qualitative and quantitative methods (online surveys, in-depth interviews, capture-recapture techniques, and web traffic analytics) to count micro-workers in a single country, France. On the basis of this analysis, we estimate that approximately 260,000 people are registered with micro-work platforms. Of these some 50,000 are 'regular' workers who do micro-tasks at least monthly and we speculate that using a more restrictive measure of 'very active' workers decreases this figure to 15,000. This analysis contributes to research on platform labour and the labour in the digital economy that lies behind artificial intelligence.

Suggested Citation

  • Paola Tubaro & Clément Le Ludec & Antonio Casilli, 2020. "Counting ‘micro-workers’: societal and methodological challenges around new forms of labour," Post-Print hal-02898905, HAL.
  • Handle: RePEc:hal:journl:hal-02898905
    DOI: 10.13169/workorgalaboglob.14.1.0067
    Note: View the original document on HAL open archive server: https://hal.archives-ouvertes.fr/hal-02898905
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    File URL: https://hal.archives-ouvertes.fr/hal-02898905/document
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Siou Chew Kuek & Cecilia Paradi-Guilford & Toks Fayomi & Saori Imaizumi & Panos Ipeirotis & Patricia Pina & Manpreet Singh, 2015. "The Global Opportunity in Online Outsourcing," World Bank Other Operational Studies 22284, The World Bank.
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    4. Paola Tubaro & Antonio A. Casilli, 2019. "Micro-work, artificial intelligence and the automotive industry," Economia e Politica Industriale: Journal of Industrial and Business Economics, Springer;Associazione Amici di Economia e Politica Industriale, vol. 46(3), pages 333-345, September.
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    Keywords

    Micro-work; digital platforms; labour statistics;

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