Vol. 2 No. 1 (2022)

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    Toward a Socioeconomic Company-Level Theory of Automation at Work
    (Weizenbaum Institute, 2022) Krzywdzinski, Martin
    The current understanding of automation is dominated by “routine-biased technological change” (RBTC). This theory predicts a strong automation dynamic in jobs with high routine-task share and a polarization of employment structures. While RBTC theory has many merits, this paper develops a systematic critique of the theory and a counter-proposal of a socioeconomically grounded company-level theory of the automation of work. It distinguishes between feasibility conditions of automation, technology choices, and social outcomes. With regard to feasibility conditions, the relevant factor is not routine-task intensity but the interaction between product architecture (product complexity) and process complexity. Which technology choices are made in this feasibility space is in turn influenced by companies’ profit strategies and power relations between management and labor. The social outcomes of automation depend on these technology choices, but also on managerial strategies pursued in the restructuring of organizational roles and skills. These managerial strategies are shaped by national institutional systems.
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    Coming into Force, not Coming into Effect?
    (Weizenbaum Institute, 2022) Brieske, Jasmin; Peukert, Alexander
    The EU legislator responded to the challenges of the digital transformation and the increase of online communication with Directive 2019/790 on copyright and related rights in the Digital Single Market (CDSMD), which intends to establish a legal framework for the use of copyright and related rights in the online environment. Germany transposed art 17 CDSMD through a new Act on the Copyright Liability of Online Content Sharing Service Providers (OCSSP Act), which entered into force on August 1, 2021. This paper examines whether the terms and conditions and other publicly accessible copyright policies of eight services (i.e., YouTube, Rumble, TikTok, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, SoundCloud, and Pinterest) changed upon the entry into force of the OCSSP Act. For this purpose, we reviewed and analyzed the relevant German-language websites of the services four times between July 2021 and November 2021. Our data collection reveals few changes in the terms and conditions of platforms over time but significant differences between the services in relation to their use of content recognition technology. The concluding section discusses the implications of these findings for the future of copyright policy in the EU.
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    Editorial
    (Weizenbaum Institute, 2022) Emmer, Martin; Krasnova, Hanna; Krzywdzinski, Martin; Metzger, Axel; Schimmler, Sonja; Ulbricht, Lena
    This second issue of the Weizenbaum Journal of the Digital Society brings together four contributions that examine the role of actors and regulation in processes of digitalization from the perspective of different disciplines. The topics include the role of the Silicon Valley discourse on entrepreneurship in legitimizing a specific model of work in the IT industry, the particularities of the European platform regulation approach, the development and enforcement problems of copyright liability regulation in Germany, and the development and regulation of automation processes in the workplace.
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    Coordinating Digital Transformation: The Discursive Context of Production in the Knowledge Economy
    (Weizenbaum Institute, 2022) Rothstein, Sidney
    This article introduces the concept of the “discursive context of production” in order to explain how the transition to the knowledge economy affects working conditions. Past episodes of economic adjustment saw national institutions in corporatist countries protect working conditions by facilitating coordination between employers and workers in the workplace. Where workers had the capacity to enforce these institutions, they succeeded, for instance, in defending against mass layoffs. Digital transformation, however, has led managers to adopt the market discourse of the knowledge economy, which allows them to dissuade workers from mobilizing. With their mechanisms for enforcement undermined, national institutions are less effective in protecting workers from employer discretion, thereby exposing them to the threat of job loss during economic adjustment. Relying on a case study of mass layoffs at a technology firm in Germany, this article uses process tracing to illustrate how discourse constitutes an important contextual feature that conditions the causal linkage between digital transformation and the ineffectiveness of national institutions. Understanding how digital transformation affects working conditions requires tracing how discursive change in the workplace reconfigures power relations between managers and workers.
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    Counter-Hegemonic Neoliberalism
    (Weizenbaum Institute, 2022) Staab, Philipp; Sieron, Sandra; Piétron, Dominik
    The platforms that hold the power in the digital economy, and the politics that surround them, are a central topic in contemporary political economy. The EU is widely perceived as a digital laggard, as it is home to very few leading digital corporations, and it is exposed to the market hegemony of the Big Tech platforms. Moreover, the EU is often considered the pioneer of digital regulation, and its platform politics have gained momentum as the EU Commission has unleashed a swathe of new regulatory initiatives, ranging from competition policies to governance of digital content, data flows and platform work. In this essay, we treat platform control and regulation as a matter of contested market design. We offer an analysis of the recent stream of EU platform regulation, questioning how it relates to the historical trajectory of the platform economy and established path dependencies within the EU. We argue that it is characterized by a critical approach to the power of digital platforms and a continuation of negative integration in the EU, and we suggest that it should be understood as a manifestation of counter-hegemonic neoliberalism, as it essentially enforces market-based governance of society through political market design.