Call for papers: special issue on platform labour in the post-covid city


Special issue of Work Organisation, Labour and Globalisation on ‘Platform Labour in the Post-Covid City

The theme

Our most recent special issue, The algorithm and the city: platform labour and the urban environment, examined the way that the exponential growth of online platforms, and the new forms of algorithmic management associated with it, are leading to a restructuring of labour markets, consumption processes and the spatial organisation of cities. Whilst this issue was in press, our cities were overwhelmed by the impact of the Coronavirus epidemic, which greatly accentuated some of these trends, while reversing some others, at least temporarily.

Restrictions on long-distance travel brought a dramatic drop in tourism (Faus, 2020), but the lock-down also created a huge boost in demand for home delivery services as well as in the number of people teleworking from their homes.  The contraction of platforms like Airbnb (Mickle & Rana, 2020) was therefore accompanied by an expansion of the scope of platforms such as Amazon or Deliveroo (Butler, 2020), and new opportunities for the likes of Upwork, Clickworker or Fiverr (Schallom, R., 2020).

In the course of these developments, existing divisions in the workforce between ‘fixed’ and ‘footloose’ workers (Huws, 2005) have been sharpened. Indeed, it may be argued that the safety of the isolated ‘fixed’ workers working from their homes may have been bought at the expense of  risks to ‘footloose’ workers travelling through public spaces to deliver them the services they need.

Has the Covid crisis introduced new patterns or are we witnessing a continuation of existing trends? This special issue will explore some of these contradictory developments, in particular their implications for work organisation, labour and social relations within urban settings.

The call

This special issue of Work Organisation, Labour & Globalisation welcomes in particular contributions that look specifically at the impacts of the coronavirus epidemic on algorithmically-managed labour and work organisation. However it also welcomes any contributions that address more generally the impacts of digitalisation and algorithmic management on labour, work organisation and social organisation in contemporary 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 the health and wellbeing of platform workers
  • Changing relationships between service users and service providers in the context of platformisation.
  • The spread of digitally-enabled homeworking and new forms of worker surveillance
  • The implications of the spread of digitalisation and algorithmic management for the gender division of labour and for work-life balance.
  • The implications of platformisation and algorithmic management for urban planning and economic development policies.

We welcome articles from a range of 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 December 11th, 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:


Butler, S. (2020) ‘Delivery and digital services thrive on coronavirus outbreak’, The Guardian, March, 10, accessed May 3, 2020 from:

Faus, J. (2020) This is how coronavirus could affect the travel and tourism industry’, World Economic Forum with Reuters, March 17. Accessed May 3, 2020 from

Huws, U. (2006) ‘Fixed, Footloose, or Fractured: Work, Identity, and the Spatial Division of Labor in the Twenty-First Century City’, Monthly Review, March 1. Available at:

Mickle, T. & P. Rana (2020) Wall Street Journal, April 28.

Shallom, R. (2020) Why the Upwork CEO believes the pandemic will lead to more work with freelancers’, Fortune, May 31. Accessed on June 2, 2020 from: