Call for papers: Special Issue of Work Organisation, Labour and Globalisation on the Algorithm and the City


Special issue of Work Organisation, Labour and Globalisation on ‘The Algorithm and the City’

**** Please note revised deadline ****

The theme

The use of online platforms to organise the supply of services has major implications for the way that the labour involved in creating and delivering these services is managed. Recent research has shown an exponential growth in platform labour, which doubled in the UK between 2016 and 2019 with an equally rapid spread of platform management practices to other sectors of the economy (Huws, Spencer & Coates, 2019). This development has been paralleled by a growth in online shopping and in the use of platforms such as Airbnb for renting accommodation as well as the spread of schemes such as bike sharing or car sharing, also run by online platforms.

All of these activities involve the collection (and – increasingly – algorithmic analysis) of digital data by a variety of means such as GPS, facial recognition, audio recording of customer services calls, shopping and social media browsing history (Cannon, 2019; Cheney-Lippold, 2017; Lupton, 2016)

As well as having major implications for urban populations in general (Carta, 2018), and the working conditions and job security of the platform workforce in particular (see for example Wood et al, 2019; Leonardi et al. 2019; Van Doorn, 2017; Prassl, 2018; Munn, 2017), these developments are also transforming cities in other respects. For example the need to speed up ‘last mile’ delivery of goods (Altenried, 2019) is resulting in a substitution of smaller inner city redistribution points for large suburban warehouses (Barbier, Cuny & Raimbault, 2019), and the extension of food delivery networks, driven by the algorithms used by platforms such as Deliveroo and Uber Eats, is leading to the development of ‘dark kitchens’ situated at a distance from their parent restaurants but designed to be close to potential customers (Hayward, 2019), in the process reconfiguring urban space and changing the character of neighbourhoods.

Such developments do not just affect the skills and working conditions of the workers directly managed by online platforms; they also have major implications for workers in other sectors affected by these developments, including employees in the hospitality, tourism, retail and transport industries.

The call

Work Organisation, Labour & Globalisation welcomes contributions that address the impacts of digitalisation and algorithmic management on cities.  We are particularly interested in contributions that deal with one or more of the following issues:

  • The social impacts of algorithmic management including the development of new subjectivities;
  • The impacts of algorithmic organisation and management on platform workers
  • The impacts of platformisation on employees in traditional sectors such as hospitality, retail and transport;
  • The spatial impacts of platformisation on cities, including the social and economic transformation of neighbourhoods and landscapes;
  • The emergence of new forms of labour related to online platforms (e.g providing services to Airbnb);
  • The implications of platformisation and algorithmic management for urban planning and economic development policies.

We welcome articles from a range of different disciplinary perspectives including (but not limited to) labour sociology, political economy, economic geography, urban planning, policy analysis and gender studies. Articles may draw on the authors’ original quantitative, qualitative or theoretical research but must demonstrate a clear contribution to knowledge and go beyond mere literature reviews.

The Journal

Work Organisation, Labour & Globalisation is an independent, international, inter-disciplinary peer-reviewed journal, founded in 2006. For more information please see

All submitted articles are subjected to double-blind peer review.

Deadline and Guidelines

The deadline for submissions is January 24th, 2020.

The article should be no longer than 6,000 words (excluding footnotes and bibliography).

Articles should be submitted in two forms: an anonymised version in which all references to the authors’ institution and publications are omitted; and a full version including the authors’ titles and institutional affiliations.

Articles should be sent to the editor:


Altenried, M. (2019). ‘On the Last Mile: Logistical Urbanism and the Transformation of Labour.’ Work Organisation, Labour & Globalisation, vol. 13, no. 1, 2019, pp. 114–129

Barbier, C., Cuny, C., & Raimbault, N. (2019). ‘The production of logistics places in France and Germany: A comparison between Paris, Frankfurt-am-Main and Kassel’. Work Organisation, Labour & Globalisation, 13(1), 30-46.

Cannon, C. (2019) ‘Recorded for Quality Assurance: The datafication of affect in the call-center industry, Real Life, September 19. Accessed on September 20, 2019 from:

Carta, S. (2018) ‘Digital Personal Space: From the Plaza to the Global Canopy‘, Journal of Urban Cultural Studies, vol. 5, no. 1, pp. 91-105.

Cheney-Lippold, J. (2017) We Are Data: Algorithms and the Making of Our Digital Selves, New York: NYU Press.

Hayward, T. (2019) ‘”Dark kitchens” spell trouble for the restaurant trade’, Financial Times, March 29. Accessed on September 20, 2019 from:

Huws, U., Spencer, N.H & Coates, M. (2019) The Platformisation of work in Europe, Brussels: Foundation for European Progressive studies.

Leonardi, D., Murgia, A., Briziarelli, M., & Armano, E. (2019). The ambivalence of logistical connectivity: A co-research with Foodora Riders. Work Organisation, Labour & Globalisation, 13(1), 155-171.

Lupton D. (2016) The Quantified Self, Cambridge: Polity Press.

Munn, L. (2017) ‘I am a Driver-Partner’, Work Organisation, Labour & Globalisation, 11(2): 7-20.

Prassl, J. (2018) Humans as a Service: The Promise and Perils of Work in the Gig Economy, Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Van Doorn, N. (2017) ‘Platform Labor: on the Gendered and Racialized Exploitation of Low-income Service Work in the ‘On-demand’ Economy’, Information, Communication & Society, 20:6, 898-914.

Wood A.J., Graham M., Lehdonvirta V., Hjorth I. (2019) ‘Good Gig, Bad Gig: Autonomy and Algorithmic Control in the Global Economy’ in Work, Employment and Society, 33:1, 56-75