‘Master and Servers’: Collective Labour Rights and Private Government in the Contemporary World of Work

International Journal of Comparative Labour Law and Industrial Relations, 36(4), 2020

19 Pages Posted: 21 Oct 2020

Date Written: August 16, 2020

Abstract

This paper explores the issues of subordination and authority in the contemporary world of work as they are exacerbated by new forms of work-surveillance that track emotions and mental states of workers by means of artificial intelligence, predictive algorithms and big data. It discusses subordination and submission in the contemporary work arrangements, against by highlighting how new technologies and business practices expand hierarchy and forms of private government beyond the scope of the employment relationship. It explores some of the technologies and practices that magnify and expand managerial powers to unprecedented levels, by tracking and strictly monitoring workers’ emotional and mental states. It also highlights how collective labour rights represent the best counterbalance to restrain these practices and curbing modern forms of private government in the workplace. It concludes by discussing how the distinction between the traditional functions of collective rights, the ‘civil liberty’ function and the ‘industrial’ one is increasingly blurred and arguing that an expansion of the personal scope of collective rights is crucial in this regard.

Keywords: workplace surveillance, artificial intelligence, predictive algorithms, big data, platform work, surveillance capitalism, subordination, contract of employment, collective labour rights

JEL Classification: J23, J42, J51, J58

Suggested Citation

De Stefano, Valerio, ‘Master and Servers’: Collective Labour Rights and Private Government in the Contemporary World of Work (August 16, 2020). International Journal of Comparative Labour Law and Industrial Relations, 36(4), 2020, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3675082

Valerio De Stefano (Contact Author)

KU Leuven - Faculty of Law ( email )

Tiensestraat 41
Leuven, B-3000
Belgium

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