Call for contributions to a special issue on: Digital Economy and the Law

Work Organisation, Labour & Globalisation invites contributions to a special issue which explores the legal consequences of the digital economy on labour law and industrial relations law.

This issue will be guest-edited by Professor Dr. Bernd Waas, Dr. Elena Gramano and Dr. Vera Pavlou (Goethe University, Frankfurt).

The theme

The growth of information and communication technologies during recent decades is giving rise to a new business model. A variety of terms has been used to refer to this phenomenon including: ‘gig economy’, ‘sharing’, ‘collaborative’, ‘platform, or ‘on-demand’ economy, ‘crowd sourcing’, ‘cloud sourcing’ and ‘digital economy’.

What is new about this business model is the fact that people offer certain assets — time, a particular working activity, a vehicle or accommodation — to other individuals or companies through digital platforms that  instantaneously connect demand and supply of certain services or products.

Platforms such as Uber, Lyft, TaskRabbit and Airbnb have been growing rapidly, taking over an important share of the markets they operate in as well as opening up new markets for low-cost services.

From a labour law and industrial relations perspective, the unprecedented spread of digital platforms and the provision of work through these platforms raises many issues.

One crucial issue concerns the personal scope of employee-protective laws. Should those providing work through digital platforms be considered employees and thus fall under the scope of provisions designed to protect employees? Or should they be classified as independent contractors and be excluded from labour law protections? The debate on setting labour law’s coverage is nothing new to labour scholars. Yet, to what extent does the digital economy challenge the traditional techniques we use to distinguish between employees and independent contractors?

The new business model is also changing the way work is organized giving rise to new working arrangements, management practices, and surveillance patterns that depart from the standard model of full-time, permanent employment with one employer paid by the hour, day or week. How should labour law respond to these new forms of work organisation?

New forms of work organisation and the diversity of those providing work on digital platforms imply further challenges for collective organisations; what is the role of trade unions in the organization and representation of ‘gig’ workers and to what extent have existing trade unions responded effectively to the challenges the digital economy poses?

The changes created due to the expansion of the digital economy have inevitably attracted the attention of policy makers at the EU level. In June 2016 the European Commission published a Communication titled ‘A European agenda for the collaborative economy’. The Communication on the one hand, praises the opportunities the so-called collaborative economy creates, while on the other hand, warns of the regulatory challenges it poses. What should be the role – if any – of the EU and its institutions in this respect? And what should be the role of other regulatory bodies, at national, regional or city level?

The call

Work Organisation, Labour & Globalisation welcomes contributions that address the impacts of the digital economy on labour and industrial relations law from an EU, national or comparative law perspective.  We are particularly interested in contributions that deal with one or more of the following of the following issues:

  • The legal status of those working in the digital economy for the purposes of setting the personal scope of labour law rights and protections;
  • New forms of organisation and representation in the digital economy;
  • The role of EU law and EU institutions in the digital economy.

Given the journal’s interdisciplinary approach, contributions should be informative and contextual, but also suitable for a non-legal readership.

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 31st, 2018.

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 author’s title(s) and institutional affiliation (s).

Articles should be sent to the editor:

For any specific question, please contact the guest editors: Dr. Elena Gramano ( and Dr. Vera Pavlou (

Volume 10 No 2



 The precariousness of knowledge workers (Part 1): hybridisation, self-employment and subjectification

As new forms of precariousness spread across global labour markets, knowledge workers are placed in acutely contradictory positions. Required to be creative on the one hand and adaptable on the other, the demands of intensification, standardisation and self-commodification are inextricably intertwined with the ethics of self-activation. In this, the first of two special issues on the precariousness of knowledge workers, guest editors Annalisa Murgia, Lara Maestripieri and Emiliana Armano have brought together an impressive collection of empirical studies from across Europe, with theoretical insights from Brazil, focusing particularly on the ways in which the hybridisation of work and subjectification of workers are interlinked with new forms of self-employment.

The precariousness of knowledge workers: hybridisation, self-employment and subjectification
by Emiliana Armano, Annalisa Murgia and Lara Maestripieri
Effects of project-based research work on the career paths of young academics
by Maria Norkus, Nina Baur, and Cristina Besio
Knowledge work intensification and self-management: the autonomy paradox
by Oscar Pérez-Zapata, Amparo Serrano Pascual, Gloria Álvarez-Hernández and Cecilia Castaño Collado
Dimensions of precariousness: Independent Professionals between market risks and entrapment in poor occupational careers
by Paolo Borghi, Guido Cavalca and Ivana Fellini
Rejection, adoption or conversion: the three ways of being a young graduate auto-entrepreneur
by Elsa Vivant
‘Invisible, solidary, unbranded and passionate’. Everyday life as a freelance and precarious worker in four Italian radio stations
by Tiziano Bonini and Alessandro Gandini
New forms of employment in a globalised world: three figures of knowledge workers
by Marie-Christine Bureau and Antonella Corsani
Inventing new rights: precarity and the recognition of the productive dimension of life
by Carolina Solomao and Solange Souza