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Alienation in Digital Labor

Mon, May 29, 14:00 to 15:15, Hilton San Diego Bayfront, Floor: 2, Indigo 202A


On the basis of a survey among 804 workers on the crowdsourcing platform Amazon Mechanical Turk, we show that (1) alienation, a form of detachment from working life, may be present in digital workplaces in the form of powerlessness, meaninglessness, normlessness, isolation, and self-estrangement. Furthermore, on the basis of qualitative vignettes, we argue that (2) the perception of digital labor as alienating is not universal, perhaps because it is often wrapped in a learned narrative of entrepreneurial belonging and empowerment. Finally, on the basis of a multiple-group analysis, we propose that (3) individual mattering (high vs. low), in the form of perceived awareness, importance and reliance may be the key to explaining differences in the effect of alienating factors such as powerlessness, meaninglessness, normlessness, isolation and self-estrangement on emotional exhaustion, work engagement and organizational commitment in the digital workplace.