Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin - BIM

Digitalisation of Labour and Migration

Duration: 04/2019 - 04/2022; Department: Social Networks and Cultural Lifestyles

Digital technologies are transforming the world of work and have far-reaching consequences for mobility and migration. The project “Digitalisation of Labour and Migration” studies the reorganisation of labour through digital platforms, and it looks at how digital conditions are also simultaneously changing the forms, practices and our conceptions of labour migration. 


Platforms form a central infrastructure of this ongoing transformation. From cab services like Uber or delivery services like Deliveroo to the cleaning service Helpling, platforms for almost every kind of work have emerged in recent years, and there is hardly an area of the social division of labour and everyday life in which digital platforms do not play a role. We investigate two exemplary fields of platform work: the increasingly globally distributed digital labour on crowdwork platforms (in Germany and Romania) and labour on the so-called last mile of the digitalized delivery sector (in Berlin). Both types of platform labour are characterized by algorithmic management, a demand-oriented and temporary allocation of labour, and more flexible forms of contracts and wages. 

It is not only new and heterogeneous working relationships that emerge here. They always combine in different ways with old and new practices and forms of temporary and flexible mobility. Thus, in our research fields, platform labour is performed to a large extent by migrant workers. At the same time, new dimensions of "virtual" migration can be observed, where the worker’s labour power migrates while their bodies remain in their home countries (Aneesh). Our project conceptualizes these empirical, theoretical and socio-political implications of labour and migration under digital conditions.


The project is funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG, project title: Digitalisation of Labour: Configurations of Real and Virtual Migration, project duration 2018-2022). The team consists of Prof. Manuela Bojadžijev (prinicipal investigator), Dr. Moritz Altenried (post-doc), Mira Wallis (PhD), Daniel Jarczyk (SHK), and Felix Busch-Geertsema (former SHK).

More information on the project website at: www.platform-mobilities.net.