“The Leuphana Universität Lüneburg is interested in how relations of production and of social reproduction intersect in interaction with the platform.”

Platform economy plays a fundamental role in the transformation of labor markets and the hyper-flexibilization and precarization of labor today. We, The Leuphana Universität Lüneburg, are convinced that by looking at how work is changing in the city, we get a glimpse of what the future of urban space may look like. It is this future, ours, which we see at stake.

We intend to investigate the gig economy not only as a distinct sector of the labor market or as a collection of services distributed via platforms. Rather, we are interested in how relations of production and of social reproduction intersect in interaction with the platform. While we focus on labor, we are interested in the social role which platforms are taking, and in how they are shaping urban life at large. Additionally, we believe that by studying the conflicts around the gig economy we are going to discover new patterns of mobility within the European space, and how the urban space may be re-configured. From this vantage point we aim to outline the future of mobile work in urban spaces.

In our vision, by contributing to critical knowledge on digital labour and within an interdisciplinary framework, project PLUS is going to generate better knowledge on the conditions of labor in digital platforms operating in and across urban spaces. We would like to see this research inform political actors and initiatives as well as an emerging research community on such issues across Europe. The consortium of the project, composed by both universities, foundations, unions and cooperative platforms, is well-endowed to tackle the issue of labor in platform economy in an interdisciplinary way which encompasses both goals of theory-building and developing practices. To this end, we will contribute to create a sustainable network of critical and engaged scholars across European metropolises. Such network should be able to cross the boundaries of academy and open itself to the affected communities, while receiving, sharing and distributing knowledge and data in an open access mode.
 In recent years, the city of Berlin is growing demographically as well as economically. The sectors which are expanding at a high pace, both in terms of number of workers and of wealth produced, are those most involved in processes of digitalisation. At the same time, these sectors are also affected by increasing polarization in terms of working conditions salaries and labor
 struggles, as for example those of food delivery workers. Further, while in logistics and food delivery, workers have been organizing to increase wages and lower stress at work, on other platforms, such as Airbnb, work seems to disappear overall, while protests are raised more from the side of neighboring residents.

We contribute to the project PLUS project with our research experiences in projects both conducted in the past and in the present. So far, we have developed knowledge and concepts and generated data on how the world of work is changing under increasing digitalisation, on the city as the site and source of the transformation of labour, and on migration as a major social phenomenon of contemporary societies closely connected to the issue of labor.

We aim at researching and analyzing closely the complex and variegated urban landscape that platform labour and the gig economy produces. In order to do so, we will conduct interviews i.e. with workers of the gig economy, experts from the local government, unions and urban grassroots initiatives.

More information about us. The Leuphana Universität Lüneburg Team investigates the transformation of labour relations and labour on the different platforms more specifically We are interested in the role of digital technology, new forms of hyper-flexible labour, as well as questions of social protection of platform workers.

— By The Leuphana Universität Lüneburg.

This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 822638.The European Commission support for the production of this publication does not constitute an endorsement of the contents which reflects the views only of the authors, and the Commission cannot be held responsi­ble for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.