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Platforms from the Inside-Out


  • Maria Concetta Ambra

    (Department of Social Sciences and Economics, Sapienza University of Rome)


This article focuses on Amazon Mechanical Turk (AMT), the crowdsourcing platform created by Amazon, with the aim to enrich our knowledge of this specific platform and to contribute to the debate on ‘platform economy’. In light of the massive changes triggered by the new digital revolution, many scholars have recently examined how platform work has changed, by exploring transformations in employee status and the new content of platform work. This article addresses two interrelated questions: to what extent and in what ways does AMT chal-lenge the boundaries between paid and unpaid digital labour? How does AMT exploit online labour to extract surplus value? The research was undertaken from December 2018 and July 2019, through the collection of 50 doc-uments originating from three Amazon web sites. These documents have been examined though the technique of content analysis by adopting the NVivo software. In conclusion, it explains how Amazon has been able to develop a hybrid system of human-machine work. This specific model can be also fruitful used to speed up the machine learning process and to make it more accurate.

Suggested Citation

  • Maria Concetta Ambra, 2020. "Platforms from the Inside-Out," Working Papers 19/20, Sapienza University of Rome, DISS.
  • Handle: RePEc:saq:wpaper:19/20

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Berg, Janine., 2016. "Income security in the on-demand economy : findings and policy lessons from a survey of crowdworkers," ILO Working Papers 994906483402676, International Labour Organization.
    2. De Stefano, Valerio., 2016. "The rise of the "just-in-time workforce" : on-demand work, crowdwork and labour protection in the "gig-economy"," ILO Working Papers 994899823402676, International Labour Organization.
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    More about this item


    Amazon Mechanical Turk; Crowdsourcing Platform; Digital Piecework; Intellectual Property Rights; Machine Learning;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • J30 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - General
    • J83 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Labor Standards - - - Workers' Rights
    • D20 - Microeconomics - - Production and Organizations - - - General
    • D26 - Microeconomics - - Production and Organizations - - - Crowd-Based Firms
    • O30 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights - - - General

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