Varieties of Digital Work


  • Esther Ruiz Ben TU Berlin



In this article I develop a typology of digital work forms. Moving beyond the numerous conceptualisations of digital work, too focused on virtual work and neglecting material and invisible forms of digital work, I argue that to understand the global, interconnected varieties of digital work, it is necessary to apply a relational perspective that situates different forms of work and their linkages at the centre of the analysis. I propose a typology based on the relation to the process of work digitalisation. Further, I explain the linkages between various forms of digital work through the global exchange of tasks, materials and expertise resources. The typology serves as a heuristic tool for considering the broader implications of digitalisation for work and employment in terms of control and coordination as well as regulation and classification between linked workspaces, which I show using the example of the varieties of digital work needed to enable the use of smartphones.

 KEYWORDS: Digital work; globalisation; virtual work; digitisation; Total Social Organisation of Labour