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Capitalism in the Platform Age

Emerging Assemblages of Labour and Welfare in Urban Spaces

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  • Open Access
  • © 2024

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  • This book is open access, which means that you have free and unlimited access
  • Provides an overview of digital platforms such as Google, Facebook, and Amazon
  • Outlines a general theory of platform capitalism
  • Examines how platforms can evolve into hegemonic organizational structures

Part of the book series: Springer Studies in Alternative Economics (SSAE)

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About this book

This open access book provides an overview of urban digital platforms such as Airbnb and Deliveroo, which, along with Amazon, Google, Facebook, and other IT companies, constitute by now the infrastructures for other businesses to operate on and for our social life to go on. These platforms serve as standards-based techno-economic systems that simultaneously capture cooperation through remote coordination and organize labor via algorithm management.

Based on a three-years research project, this contributed book outlines a general theory of platform capitalism that conceives these platforms not only as technical devices, but as generative engines that operate at the interface of several aspects, such as digitalization of forms of social cooperation; algorithm-based management of labor and participation; and private and vertical appropriation of profits. These elements are somehow iconic of the capitalist evolution of the last decades, and they open up a reflection on new forms of “primitive accumulation” (in particular regarding data), on the mechanisms used to capture and extract social surplus value, and on the logistic-financial dimensions of capital. Finally, in light of the transformations associated with the COVID-19 pandemic, the authors examine how platforms can evolve into hegemonic organizational structures.

Assuming we are all already living in the age of the platform, this book takes a multifaceted approach—combining sociology with urban studies, and political sciences with economics—to grasp the challenges our societies face in terms of ensuring fair economic growth, adequate social protections, and labor rights. It will appeal to anyone interested in digital platforms and how they are changing the organization of labor, urban spaces, and forms of governance.


Table of contents (20 chapters)

  1. Notes From the Field

Editors and Affiliations

  • University of Bologna, Bologna, Italy

    Sandro Mezzadra, Mattia Frapporti, Maurilio Pirone

  • University of Applied Sciences and Arts of Southern Switzerland, Manno, Switzerland

    Niccoló Cuppini

About the editors

Sandro Mezzadra is a professor of political theory at the University of Bologna (Italy) and is an adjunct fellow at Western Sydney University (Australia). With Brett Neilson, he is the author of Border as Method, or, the Multiplication of Labor (Duke University Press, 2013) and of The Politics of Operations. Excavating Contemporary Capitalism (Duke University Press, 2019) and co-authored with Brett Neilson "The Rest and the West. Capital and Power in a Multipolar World" (Verso, 2024).


Niccolò Cuppini is lecturer and researcher at the University of Applied Sciences and Arts of Southern Switzerland (Manno, Switzerland), editoriale member of the Scienza&Politica, member of the LUCI – Labour, Urbanscapes and Citizenship research area at the Dipartimento economia aziendale, sanità e sociale (DEASS), and founding member of the Into the Black Box research group.


Mattia Frapporti is Junior Researcher within the HorizonEurope INCA project at the Department of Computer Science, University of Bologna. His main interests are the analysis of the political role of infrastructures and the relationship between logistics and politics. Since many years now, his research also focuses on the platform’s world and their impact on urban spaces. He is a founding member of the research group Into the Black Box and he is on the editorial board of Zapruder and on the board of the Foundation Jean Monnet pour l'Europe.


Maurilio Pirone is a Junior Researcher at the Department of Arts of University of Bologna (Italy) working in the Horizon Europe project INCA (Increase Corporate Political Responsibility and Accountability), founding member of the Into the Black Box research group, and member of the editorial board of Work Organisation, Labour and Globalisation Journal.


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