The 21st Century Liquid Labour Market

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The digital age of distributed communication and information systems has enabled our world to be connected by invisible and intangible wires, which have transformed our society into a digitalised networked society. Not only has our networked society changed our world perception and culture, it has also significantly contributed to our role as liquid labourers.

Before the digital age, the labour workforce was largely characterised as industrial manual work as work was set to the rhythm of the machine. After all, one could not work without the machine. However, the 21st century has seen the development of the liquid workforce. With the rise of decentralised and distributed information networks and technologies, we now work as chronic knowledge labourers as we engage in the process of chronically sorting information flows. This means that our style of work is set to the flow of information and online markets which, unlike thebattle600 machines, can never switch off or stop. With the ability to connect and generate information in real time from anywhere in the world, we no longer need to be confined within four walls to produce information or get work done; we can work from anywhere at anytime from a contemporary (non)space workplace. Thus time restrictions and geographic barriers can no longer restrict our ability to work.

This reconfiguration of the workplace has blurred the lines between work life and private life. We are now liquid labourers as we have flexibility with what we produce and how we produce in real time.

Listen to the podcast to learn about how companies such as Airbnb, Uber and Facebook have contributed to the development of the liquid workforce and rely on our labour to generate profit.

References:

Hern, A 2015, ‘Facebook is making more and more money from you. Should you be paid for it?’, The Guardian, 25 September, viewed on 18 August 2016, < https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2015/sep/25/facebook-money-advertising-revenue-should-you-be-paid>

Libert, B, Wind, Y, Beck, M, 2014, ’What Airbnb, Uber, and Alibaba have in Common’, Harvard Business Review, 20 November, viewed on 18 August 2016, < https://hbr.org/2014/11/what-airbnb-uber-and-alibaba-have-in-common>

Mitew, T, 2014, ‘Liquid Labour’, University of Wollongong, <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q3M9x_UJkoo&gt;

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6 thoughts on “The 21st Century Liquid Labour Market

  1. timbrenotes says:

    Hello! I enjoyed reading your post. I agree, liquid labour does introduce a freedom and flexibility that inspires all kinds of new ideas. More decisions are made my individuals (nodes). It also means we have flatter power structures, so yay to no more stiff hierarchy!

  2. Hey, just wanna say that this is an excellent post on liquid labour and I really enjoyed listening to your podcast (by the way, what recorder did you use?). You post was really insightful and well written. I definitely agree that liquid labour has now blurred the lines of the personal and professional life. This is very true with my dad, who is still technically a company man, he works from home and has his own hours and this often disrupts his personal life.

    Great Post!

  3. This is excellent.
    You’ve captured the core concepts of the topic, whilst also elaborated on it by using the case studies of Air BnB, Facebook and Uber.
    As your podcast highlighted, there are so many ethical questions raised as we transition to a new work model. This article actually indicates that the knowledge age could be widening social inequalities:
    https://t.co/vlzkT2arrs

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