Platforms and the New Division of Labor Between Humans and Machines

Attila Marton*, Hamid Ekbia

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingBook chapterResearchpeer-review


The emergence of platforms as key architectures of the new economy has not only shifted the space of technical innovation and economic activity; it is also giving rise to a new political economy. This chapter is an attempt to outline the contours of this political economy. With a focus on heteromation as the division of labor between humans and machines, we introduce “decomposition” of tasks as a key mechanism that allows platforms to extract value from users and gig workers in expansive and often invisible ways. The continuities as well as novelties of the decompositional approach compared to earlier organizations of work (the workshop and the factory) are explored, and the implications for the future of work are examined, allowing us to steer away from the dominant substitution-complementation debate.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationNew Ways of Working : Organizations and Organizing in the Digital Age
EditorsNathalie Mitev, Jeremy Aroles, Kathleen A. Stephenson, Julien Malaurent
Number of pages24
Place of PublicationCham
PublisherPalgrave Macmillan
Publication date2021
ISBN (Print)9783030616861, 9783030616892
ISBN (Electronic)9783030616878
Publication statusPublished - 2021
SeriesTechnology, Work and Globalization


  • Division of labor
  • Political economy
  • Heteromation
  • Platform economy
  • Gig workers

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