Vol. 1 No. 1 (2021)

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    Platform Matters. Political Opinion Expression on Social Media
    (Weizenbaum Institute, 2021) Mitchelstein, Eugenia; Boczkowski, Pablo; Giuliano, Camila
    This study examines political opinion expression on four social media platforms in Argentina (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and WhatsApp). Drawing on in-depth interviews (N=158) and a survey (N= 700), it examines divergent dynamics of political conversation across platforms, and finds that respondents use platforms in different ways to talk about current affairs. Political discussion practices vary according to shared understandings regarding the content perceived as appropriate and level of privacy attributed to each platform, but not according to socio demographic characteristics. This comparative cross-platform approach indicates that political talk on social media is shaped by: a) the political context; b) each platform’s uptake; and, c) the overlapping of private and public, non-political and political content in a single space. Combining interviews with a survey allows this research to account for both differences in the level of political talk across platforms and the interpretation that underlie these differences. In the polarized Argentine context, online incivility is perceived to be common, and users employ diverging strategies to talk about politics on different platforms. We draw upon these findings to reflect on how varying user practices contribute to understanding social media platforms as culturally distinct spaces.
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    Multidimensional Digital Inequalities. Theoretical Framework, Empirical Investigation, and Policy Implications of Digital Inequalities among Older Adults
    (Weizenbaum Institute, 2021) Friemel, Thomas N.; Frey, Tobias; Seifert, Alexander
    Older adults represent the fastest-growing age group in the global north and are among the most affected by digital inequality. This study investigates the most important factors related with Internet use among older adults in Switzerland. Hereby, the individual context (i.e., gender, age, education, income, preretirement PC use) is found to be responsible for Internet access and frequency of use, while the support by an individual’s social context is related with inequalities regarding skills, diversity of use, and beneficial outcomes. Our theoretical framework suggests a systematic typology of four distinct relationships between dimensions of inequality. Empirical evidence for maintaining (e.g., income), reinforcing (e.g., age), mitigating (e.g., gender), and modifying relationships (e.g., encouragement by friends and family) support this framework and implications for future research and policy interventions are discussed. It becomes evident that the relationships between the dimensions are crucial for any setting in which digital inequalities are found on multiple dimensions. Given the steady innovation of new technologies and online services, the relevance of a multidimensional perspective is likely to increase.
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    International Regulation of Platform Labor. A Proposal for Action
    (Weizenbaum Institute, 2021) Fredman, Sandra; Du Toit, Darcy; Graham, Mark; Vadekkethil, Aradhana Cherupara; Bhatia, Gautam; Bertolini, Alessio
    Platform-mediated work is a source of livelihood for millions of workers worldwide. However, because platforms typically classify workers as ‘independent contractors’, those workers are generally excluded from the scope of labor rights. This has a corrosive effect on working standards of platform workers, creating the need for an international regulatory framework to prevent a race to the bottom. To address this situation, the article proposes an outline for an International Labor Organization (ILO) Convention for the regulation of platform work going beyond the employee/independent contractor dichotomy. It identifies five core issues in the platform economy – low pay, poor working conditions, inaccessible and unreasonable contracts, unfair management, and a lack of representation – and demonstrates how existing ILO standards could be adapted to address these issues. The proposals are informed by the evidence collected by the Fairwork project through its participatory and multidisciplinary research.
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    Reshaping the Legal Categories of Work. Digital Labor Platforms at the Borders of Labor Law
    (Weizenbaum Institute, 2021) Kocher, Eva
    The article questions the fundamental paradigms of labor law in view of the challenges presented by digital platform work. It uses heuristic methods, namely legal doctrine and labor law theory, to show how legal concepts of em-ployment have been informed by organization theory. It proposes taking les-sons from organizational analyses of market organizing that have already ad-dressed new organizational forms with some precision. This approach would facilitate the development of a consistent and effective regulatory design for digital labor platforms. The design would include two levels: First, regulation should modify the criteria and indicators for classifying workers, either in the employment category or in a new category, to capture indirect mechanisms of worker control such as feedback and rating systems. Second, the rights and obligations associated with labor law, as well as the participation and gover-nance structures, should be reformulated to address indirect control and the social dynamics of virtual workplaces.
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    (Weizenbaum Institute, 2021) Emmer, Martin; Krasnova, Hanna; Krzywdzinski, Martin; Metzger, Axel; Schimmler, Sonja; Ulbricht, Lena; Neuberger, Christoph
    The Weizenbaum Journal of the Digital Society is an open access journal and could not function any other way, because we see digitalization as a process that changes traditional forms of communication and cooperation, which raises the questions of control of data, information and knowledge anew. We look forward to contributions about the conditions, forms and consequences of the digitalization of society and its sub-sectors such as politics, business, science, labor, the public, civil society, law and culture. The digitalization of society has many facets: the disruptive transformation of the world of work, radical changes in the economic and innovation systems, new forms of learning and the restructuring of educational systems, the transformation of public space through digital media and platforms, changes in the way democracies function, massive challenges for the legal system and the planning and design of technical infrastructures. In light of these developments, the question arises as to how social actors can shape the digital transformation while safeguarding the foundations for individual and societal self-determination.