By Joseph H.
The creation of the proletariat, the wage-laboring working class, is the definitive characteristic of Capitalism. As capital is accumulated, the working class grows, a mutually reinforcing process that powers the dynamo of Capitalism. The number of people exploited in this manner, and the extent of the exploitation, grows in proportion with the growth of the wealth of the capitalist class. This is the definition of Capitalism, and the ways in which this dynamic manifests are numerous.
One particular expression of this relationship of exploitation has been in the rise of Gig Work. Particularly associated with “App-Based” work, and coming into prominence with the rise of Uber and its cadre of “on-demand” companies, this work is characterized by its unpredictable nature, lack of company benefits, and piece-work pay. In addition, it has characteristics that make it particularly corrosive to the worker solidarity that is supposed to accompany collective exploitation. Gig Workers don’t ever see each other in the ordinary course of their work, and they are subject to “Algorithmic Management”; hired, fired and disciplined by a computer that reaches them through their phones. The pitch for workers is flexibility and independence, but that’s really only true