Proceedings of the Weizenbaum Conference 2019: Challenges of Digital Inequality

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    How Privacy Concerns and Social Media Platform Use Affect Online Political Participation in Germany
    (Weizenbaum Institute, 2019) Lutz, Christoph; Hoffmann, Christian
    Digital inequalities research has investigated who engages in online political participation, finding gaps along socioeconomic variables such as gender and education. Recent research has also highlighted how online platforms may facilitate political participation. Especially for multi-purpose platforms such as Facebook, where users are supposed to use their real names, issues of adequate self-presentation arise. The diversity of multiple audiences engenders privacy concerns, particularly when controversial political issues are discussed. We add to existing research on digital inequalities by focusing on privacy concerns as a critical construct. Using a survey of German Internet users, we test the effect of privacy concerns on online political participation. Unexpectedly, privacy concerns increase political participation. As privacy concerns are spread evenly throughout the population, they contribute little to the socioeconomic stratification of online political participation. Social media use, however, exerts a strong positive effect on political participation, and differs significantly among socioeconomic groups.
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    Big Data: Inequality by Design?
    (Weizenbaum Institute, 2019) Prietl, Bianca
    This paper proposes to tackle the problem of digital inequality by introducing digital technologies of knowledge generation and decision-making to a feminist critique of rationality that is informed by discourse theory and intersectional perspectives on gender and gendered relations of inequality. Therefore, it takes a closer look at the epistemological foundations of Big Data as one prominent representation of digital technologies. While Big Data and Big Data-based results and decisions are generally believed to be objective and neutral, numeral cases of algorithmic discrimination have lately begged to differ. This paper argues that algorithmic discrimination is neither random nor accidental; on the contrary, it is - amongst others - the result of the epistemological foundation of Big Data - namely: data fundamentalism, post-explanatory anticipatory pragmatics, and anti-political solutionism. As a consequence, a critical engagement with the concepts and premises that become materialized in the design of digital technologies is needed, if they are not to silently (re)produce social inequalities.
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    “You are to Old (Not) to Learn” - A Critical Reconsideration of “Older Employees”
    (Weizenbaum Institute, 2019) Teichmann, Malte; Matthiessen, Julia; Vladova, Gergana
    Todays working environment faces the major challenges of demographical change and digitalization. Deficit-oriented stereotypes question the ability of older employees to keep pace with these technological innovations. Consequently, the elderly are perceived as less valuable for the company leading to fewer vocational training offers. Facing this dilemma, this contribution aims at uncovering the prevailing stereotypes against older employees and present a new approach of looking at older generations. Focusing existing experienced-based knowledge instead of assumed deficits as a starting point for further didactical work and research, basics of age-appropriate vocational training get pointed out in order to raise target group specific potentials in the context of the challenges of digitalization.
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    Signaling Stigma: How Support Technology Induces Bodily Inequalities in Interaction
    (Weizenbaum Institute, 2019) Karafillidis, Athanasios
    This paper contends that support technologies and their relevant artifacts recast bodily relations and thereby produce differing bodies in situations. In this vein, it sketches three main forms of physical human-machine relations (substitution, augmentation, support) and then introduces the concept of signaling stigma that allows to observe the situated management of new technological markers of difference. It concludes with suggestions for further research building on this approach to uncover the interactional foundations for what might grow into manifest inequalities - beyond the still important issues of personal data rights and access to technology.
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    The Fairwork Foundation. Strategies for Improving Platform Work
    (Weizenbaum Institute, 2019) Graham, Mark; Woodcock, Jamie; Heeks, Richard; Fredman, Sandra; Du Toit, Darcy; Van Belle, Jean-Paul; Mungai, Paul; Osiki, Abigail
    This paper introduces the Fairwork Foundation, a research initiative that is also developing an intervention around the quality of work on digital labour platforms. Lacking the ability to collectively bargain, many of these workers have little ability to negotiate wages or working conditions with their employers who are often on the other side of the world. As a result of this new global market for work, many workers have jobs characterized by long and irregular hours, low income, and high stress. Across India and South Africa, there are challenges for workers across a range of issues, including: pay, conditions, contracts, management, and representation. The results of the fieldwork are being used to rank and compare platforms as part of the ongoing ‘work in progress’ of the Fairwork project, a research initiative that is developing an intervention to improve the quality of work on digital platforms.