Digital Labour, Society and the Politics of Sensibilities
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Digital Labour, Society and the Politics of Sensibilities

Adrian Scribano, Pedro Lisdero, Adrian Scribano, Pedro Lisdero

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Digital Labour, Society and the Politics of Sensibilities

Adrian Scribano, Pedro Lisdero, Adrian Scribano, Pedro Lisdero

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This volume provides a multidisciplinary perspective on a set of transformations in social practices that modify the meaning of everyday interactions, and especially those that affect the world of labour. The book is composed of two types of texts: some dedicated to exploring the modifications of labour in the context of the 'digital age', and others that point out the consequences of this era and those transformations in the current social structuration processes. The authors examine interwoven possibilities and limitations that act in renewed ways to release/repress the creative energy of human beings, just a few of the potential paths for investigating the connections between work and society that are nowadays involved in the battle of sensibilities.

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© The Author(s) 2019
A. Scribano, P. Lisdero (eds.)Digital Labour, Society and the Politics of Sensibilities
Begin Abstract

1. Introduction: Politics of Sensibilities, Society 4.0 and Digital Labour

Adrian Scribano1
CONICET, Buenos Aires, Argentina
SensibilitiesDigital labourBodiesEmotionsSociety 4.0
End Abstract
The predatory expansion of capitalism on a planetary scale has generated a rapid, complex and massive articulation between the features of so-called Society 4.0, digital labour1 and a political economy of morality. Some of the features of the transformations taking place in this current social structuration process include the expansion of the revolution 4.0 and its impact on productivity and labour, the massification of a political economy of morality based on non-truth, the growing number of refugees and migrants around the world, military tensions and wars of a multilateral nature.
The modifications in work and its consequences in the social structure are central axes of the history of humanity: the crossing between production, needs, goods, models of work organization and wealth distribution systems have been, are and will be the constituent axes of societal forms.
In the same vein, it is possible to understand how technological transformations have involved modifications in work and in social relations as a whole. These technological changes imply, in one way or another, variations in the mode by which people relate to time, space, shortage and satisfaction.
In the described context it is easy to understand how and why the expansion of digital labour comes about in the context of the massification of the modifications produced by the digitalization of society, generating consequences in the politics of sensibilities .
The digital society brings together the expansion of Industry 4.0 (and digital labour) with the wide spread and globalization of digital consumption. It is in this intersection/convergence that “new/diverse” features of the politics of sensibilities are elaborated.
The digital economy is expanding in several ways. Global production of ICT goods and services now amounts to an estimated 6.5 per cent of global gross domestic product (GDP), and some 100 million people are employed in the ICT services sector alone. Exports of ICT services grew by 40 per cent between 2010 and 2015. Worldwide e-commerce sales in 2015 reached $25.3 trillion, 90 per cent of which were in the form of business-to-business e-commerce and 10 per cent in the form of business-to-consumer (B2C) sales. UNCTAD estimates that cross-border B2C e-commerce was worth about $189 billion in 2015, which corresponds to 7 per cent of total B2C e-commerce. Sales of robots are at the highest level ever, worldwide shipments of three-dimensional printers more than doubled in 2016, to over 450,000, and are expected to reach 6.7 million in 2020. And by 2019, the volume of global Internet traffic is expected to increase 66 times from what it was in 2005. (UNCTAD 2017: xiii)
To paraphrase what Montesquieu said about the connection between trade and capitalism through digital commerce and mercantilization, consuming is softened and sweetened. The politics of digital sensibility promises instant consumption without conflict, taking for granted the thousands of people “behind the scenes” that make those sensations possible.
The role that social media plays in the lives of its users has evolved. Digital consumers are now almost as likely to say they use social to follow the news as they are to identify it as a platform for keeping in touch with friends (40% vs 41%). Almost 4 in 10 internet users say they are following their favorite brands on social, while 1 in 4 are following brands from which they are thinking of making a purchase from. Influencer marketing makes the most impact among 16–24s, but even among this age group it’s just 18% who say they find new brands via celebrity or influencer endorsements. Social commerce is gaining traction primarily in the research and brand interaction stages of the purchase journey. But when it comes to the final purchase, the appetite to do so in these platforms remains low and most are moving to a retail site to do so. (Global Web Index 2018: 4)
As we have already argued above, it is in this scenario that the planet is experiencing a process of social metamorphosis on a global scale. One of the consequences and central effects of the relationships between Society 4.0, digital labour and the social structuration process are the changes in the politics of sensibilities . And if we know that these politics “are understood as the set of cognitive-affective social practices tending to the production, management and reproduction of horizons of action, disposition and cognition” (Scribano 2017: 244) to reflect on the changes mentioned is essential to understand the current situation of society.
In this context we detect that in the existing literature there is a lack of attention to and research about how the politics of sensibilities is being altered by the current situation of Society 4.0, given that digital labour implies substantial changes in the lives of individuals, groups and society in general (Fig. 1.1). Just as an example, this implies that we also have to analyse how the situation of the geometries of the bodies , the grammar of actions, the politics of the bodies /emotions in relation to what is the digital era, digital platforms, teleworking and so on now modify day-to-day life.
Fig. 1.1
Politics of sensibilities , Society 4.0 and digital labour
In this book we choose to deepen the study of the politics of the sensibilities since it is an unknown perspective in the current analysis of the connections between Society 4.0 and digital labour.
From a general point of view the book involves reviewing the impact of digitization (and digitalization), connectivity and communication of Society 4.0 in the transformations of modes of managing borders ; the ways that fear and terror appear in and through the virtual world ; the ways of redefining time and space in the context of access to “digital territories”; and the socio-productive implications of outsourcing, in the creative and software industries, as examples of the alterations in the politics of the sensibilities .
Every form of work and especially digital work involves certain ways of managing at least two spheres of the world: those connected with the senses (hearing, touching, tasting, looking and smelling) and those that articulate perceptions , sensations and emotions . The politics of sensibilities are developed from, among other factors, the states of these two spheres.

Society 4.0

The mobile/digital revolution implies transformations in the management of labour and vice versa, and under the umbrella of these modifications are developing new politics of sensibilities .
One of the most important aspects of the advent of companies 4.0 is the rapid development of social networks and the enormous growth of their commercialization and commercial value. In this framework, the interactions between the face-to-face social world, the virtual world and the “mobile” world of cell phones and tablets have grown exponentially. As Simply Measured claims in its 2017 report:
Social media spending is expected to rise to 17.3 billion by 2019 (Statista). The allocation of funds to marketing analytics is expected to see a massive increase within the next few years, according to the CMO Survey. In 2017, marketing analytics consumes just 4.6% of marketing budgets. This number could jump to almost 22% by 2020…. (Simply Measured 2017: 12)
In this context, Scott Fallon, VP Marketing of the company holds:
The expected rise in social media budgets is based on bringing social more fully into the marketing mix. Today, too many companies view social media as a siloed activity. That view is dying. Social will get more budget as more companies realize that social signals have to be attended to during the customer lifecycle. Social activity has been too long ignored from an attribution standpoint. Social channels will soon be sales channels. (Simply Measured 2017: 12)
Many authors argue that we are facing the Fourth Industrial Revolution, and that this can be characterized by the consolidation of at least three factors: (a) the appearance of Big Data as a resource for social diagnosis, (b) the Gig Economy as evidence of the growth of deinstitutionalization and, (c) the Internet of Things (IoT) as a new form of production and “management of sensibilities ”.
For its part, the use of Big Data analysis implies: 1. material surveillance of massive amounts of information about people and societies; 2. Internet , social networks and mobile interaction as a space for search, construction, management and distribution of information; 3. the digital dependence of the most dynamic sectors of the “real” economy; 4. changes in the management of work and appropriation of the benefits of capital; and 5. the intimate relationship between the depredation of environmental assets and computer/digital assets.
In relation to the Gig Economy, it is possible to notice as central features: 1. flexibility in the modalities of coordination of action; 2. transformations in resources to guarantee competences; 3. the contingency of temporary and spatial links between the consumer and the producer; and 4. the transformation of the means of payment for services and goods.
On the other hand, the Internet of Things brings with it the following consequences: 1. a new kind of “do it yourself” paradigm; 2. the redefinitions of proximity/distance between the product and the producer; and 3. changes in the relationship between “materials”/sensation.
The increasingly important weight of “The Cloud ” as a virtual space for production, storage, management and distribution of information must be added. Indeed, among the many factors that converge for the modification of the modes of work management, knowledge and production at present, the cloud is the most important one. This is so, since (a) it is a virtual space designed to improve collaborative work, (b) it allows to obviate the inequalities of access to expensive hardware and (c) to promote a more “agile” information management.
Another feature of the connection between Society 4.0 and labour is the so-called sharing economy , as maintained by Pare...

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