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Spatiotemporal (In)justice in Digital Platforms: An Analysis of Food-Delivery Platforms in South India

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The Future of Digital Work: The Challenge of Inequality (IFIPJWC 2020)

Part of the book series: IFIP Advances in Information and Communication Technology ((IFIPAICT,volume 601))

Abstract

With on-demand labour and location-based services becoming increasingly common, this paper explores the complex social justice impact of spatial and temporal elements of digital platforms. A conceptual framing of ‘spatiotemporal justice’ is proposed to explore the consequences of algorithmic control of space and time experienced by workers. An interpretive case-study is built focusing on work practices of food-delivery platforms in the south Indian city of Chennai. The qualitative methods used include semi-structured interviews of food-delivery workers and an autoethnographic study by the author as a worker on digital platforms. The empirical analysis demonstrates that (in)justice is involved with the workers’ negotiation of multiple micro-spatiotemporalities in their daily work practice. The impacts include workers being forced to balance spatiotemporal risk and stress against the benefits of employment. This is contextualised by inequities propagated due to imperfect digital representation of, and the asymmetrical information on spatiality and temporality within the platform. The workers are further affected adversely in their spatiotemporally subordinated power relationship with other groups of digital platform’s stakeholders. Spatiotemporal justice as conceptualised here has direct implications in how future of work is defined, governed and how digital platforms are held accountable – particularly in the global South.

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Correspondence to Shyam Krishna .

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Krishna, S. (2020). Spatiotemporal (In)justice in Digital Platforms: An Analysis of Food-Delivery Platforms in South India. In: Bandi, R.K., C. R., R., Klein, S., Madon, S., Monteiro, E. (eds) The Future of Digital Work: The Challenge of Inequality. IFIPJWC 2020. IFIP Advances in Information and Communication Technology, vol 601. Springer, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-64697-4_11

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