Digital labor designates value-adding activities performed by humans on Internet platforms. As a field of study, it focuses on circumstances where employer–employee relationships and modes of remuneration are superseded. Prominence is given to precarious content providers, online temporary workers, and anonymous website and mobile application users over high-tech professionals, engineers, and hackers. Notable antecedents have argued that value-producing activities take place outside the strict framework of workplace and wage labor: invisible labor of women and minorities (Federici, 1975), audience labor in traditional media (Jhally & Livant, 1986), immaterial labor within knowledge-intensive industries (Lazzarato & Negri, 1991), and “prosumption” (Ritzer & Jurgenson, 2010). Building on these approaches, digital labor studies pinpoint the specific influence of pervasive computing and usage of digital/mobile technologies to emphasize unrecognized and often unskilled work.

antonio a. casilli

Digital Labor Studies Go Global: Toward a Digital Decolonial Turn
Antonio A. Casilli, International Journal of Communication 11(2017), 3934–3954