CALL FOR PAPER, PACO 12(3): 2019


Call for paper for the Special issue on:

Working as a platform: labour needs, activation and representativeness in the era of digital transformation


Guest Editors:

Davide Arcidiacono (Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore)

Paolo Borghi (Università Milano-Bicocca)

Andrea Ciarini (Università La Sapienza di Roma)


The pervasiveness of the technological ecosystem reconfigures the organization of work at the root both in the industrial context and in the fast growing tertiary sector (Degryse 2016).The new industrial revolution is increasingly based on the platform as a new productive paradigm, therefore more than a simple  infrastructure (MIT, 2017; Kenney and Zysman, 2016;) with huge effect in terms of scaling in the so called industrious economy (Arvidsson et al., 2015) lowering access credentials and empowering casualization of work and dis/re-intermediation, affecting motivations and rewarding systems, reconfiguring process of control and risks transfer, and putting in the public agenda the need for new regulative standards for work, representativeness and welfare protection.As a consequence, the classical concepts of autonomy, dependence and work regulation, are undergoing a radical redefinition. Fragmentation, precariousness (Armano and Murgia 2017), flexibility and instability becomepermanent traits of the workforce (Huws 2007; Gherardi and Murgia 2012) fostering the emergence ofanew gilded age (Milkman 2013) of thecybertariat (Huws 2009; 2014).

Moreover connectivity, evaluation and surveillance determine new working conditions tested on workers outside any bargaining process orinstitutional work arrangement (Maselli et al. 2016).The medium-long term effects in terms of social sustainability, gender and racial discrimination (Huws 2009; Niels van Doorn 2017),are still largely unexplored.Platform workers (both high skilled and low skilled) are still largely unorganized and isolated;they are exposed to the risk of poor professional careers andthey have to face an extremely competitive professional environment where individualism is the rule and solidarity has no room.Moreover, similarly to other non-standard workers, they are exposed to the risk of exploitation (Chicchi et al. 2018) and free work (Beverungen et al. 2013) in a fast evolving economy based on reputation (Gandini 2016).

The population of  platform workers is a plural eco-system, highly differentiated and heterogeneous (FEPS-UNIEuropa, 2017; Codagnone et al., 2016; De Groen et al. 2016), difficult to frame and organize in collective activation and organizations, despite forms are just beginning to emerge (Deliverance Project, DeliverUnion,,, etc).

All these transformations are leading towards new forms of representations promoted by both long-term established trade-union, autonomous organizations and grass-roots movements, involving varied groups of underrepresented workers, including professional and autonomous workers. Against this background we invite papers that analyze this changes in both labour needs and forms of representation. The questions to answer are multiple but they all share the same task of mapping out these different processes of change. Thereby, the  call aims at:

1) bringing light into the strategies implemented by unions and autonomous organizations;

2) reviewing and evaluating recent theoretical and empirical developments on working conditions, labour needs work regulation and bargaining structure in the platform economy

3)identifying the social profile and needs of the platform workers;

4) deepening the role of the platform both as an organizational structure and a tool for innovation in social activation of workers.

Comparative papers are particularly welcome.


Armano, E., &Murgia, A. (2017). Hybrid areas of work in Italy Hypotheses to interpret the transformations of precariousness and subjectivity. In E. Armano, A. Murgia, & A. Bove (Eds.), Mapping Precariousness, Labour Insecurity (pp. 47–59). New York and London: Routledge.

Arvidsson A., Caliandro A., Cossu A., Deka M., Gandini A., Luise V., Orria B, Anselmi G. (2016). «Commons Based Peer Production in the Information Economy», Research Report, P2Pvalue Project,

Beverungen, A., Otto, B., Spoelstra, S., & Kenny, K. (Eds.). (2013). Free Work. Ephemera.

Chicchi, F.; Leonardi, E.; Lucarelli, S. (2018), MÁS ALLÁ DEL SALARIO. Lógicas de la explotación, Madrid, Enclave des libros, 2018, pp. 243.

Codagnone, C., F. Abadie and F. Biagi (2016), “The Future of Work in the ‘Sharing Economy’. Market Efficiency and Equitable Opportunities or Unfair Precarisation?”, Institute for Prospective Technological Studies, JRC Science for Policy Report EUR 27913 EN,

De Groen, W.P. and I. Maselli (2016), “The Impact of the Collaborative Economy on the Labour Market”, CEPS Special Report No. 138, CEPS, Brussels, June.

Degryse, C. (2016). Digitalisation of the economy and its impact on labour markets (No. 2). Brussels: ETUI

FEPS-UNIEuropa, (2017), Working in the European Gig Economy-Full report, Brussels.

Gandini, A. (2016) The Reputation Economy. Understanding knowledge work in digital society. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.

Gherardi, S.,Murgia, A. (2012), By Hook or By Crook: Flexible Workers between Exploration and Exploitation, in Mikael Holmqvist, André Spicer (ed.) Managing ‘Human Resources’ by Exploiting and Exploring People’s Potentials (Research in the Sociology of Organizations, Volume 37) Emerald Group Publishing Limited, pp.75 - 103

Huws, U. (2007). Defragmenting: towards a critical understanding of the new global division of labour. Work Organisation, Labour and Globalisation, 1(2), 1–4.

Huws, U. (2009). The making of a cybertariat? Virtual work in a real world. Socialist Register, 37(37).

Huws, U. (2014). Labor in the global digital economy: The cybertariat comes of age. NYU Press.

Kenney, M., Zysman, J. (2016), The Rise of the Platform Economy. Issues in Science and Technology, 32(3)

Maselli/Lenaerts/Beblavý, Five things we need to know about the on-demand economy, CEPS Essay No. 21/8 January 2016

Milkman, R. (2013). Back to the Future? US Labour in the New Gilded Age. British Journal of Industrial Relations, 51(4), 645–665.

MIT (2017), Platform Strategy Summit-report, Cambridge.

Van Doorn, N. (2017). Platform labor: on the gendered and racialized exploitation of low-income service work in the ‘on-demand’ economy. Information, Communication & Society, 20(6), 1–17.

Submission procedure:

Articles, written in English, should be submitted to the editors according to the following schedule:

-  Submission of long abstracts (about 1,000 words): 15th of december2018

Abstracts must be sufficiently detailed to allow the PACO editorial board to judge the merits of the paper, including: 
(1) A description of the topic,
(2) The theoretical framework,
(3) Empirical data, time frame and research methods,
(4) Findings.

Abstracts lacking these information will be immediately rejected.


-  Selection of long abstracts: 10th of January 2019

-  Submission of articles: 27th of April 2019

-  Provision of peer review feedback: 15th ofJune 2019

- Submission of revised drafts: 30th of September 2019

- Publication of the issue: 15th of November 2019

Articles should be no longer than 10,000 words, including notes and references. A maximum of 10 articles will be published.

Please refer to the editorial guidelines available at


Abstracts must be sufficiently detailed to allow the PACO editorial board to judge the merits of the paper, including: 
(1) A description of the topic,
(2) The theoretical framework,
(3) Empirical data, time frame and research methods,
(4) Findings.
Abstracts lacking these information will be immediately rejected.



Please address any queries to the Editors – Proposals and papers have to be sent to the guest editors:

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