The Craft of Crowdwork: A Veneer for Digital Capitalism

Timothy Charlton-Czaplicki, Attila Marton

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperResearchpeer-review


Platform intermediation is gradually reconfiguring the working lives of millions worldwide. Flexibility, learning opportunities, and a world-wide market are all promises of a new world of work driven by the platform economy, which leverages technology to establish, monitor, and optimise work relationships. This raises tensions related to the performance of craftwork, characterised by human engagement, communality, and self-determination, in algorithmically governed workspaces. We draw on Hannah Arendt’s theory of active life and apply her tripartite categorisation of labour, craftwork, and action to distinguish digital labour from digital work practices and establish the political implications of undermining genuine craftwork. Using topic modelling on a novel data corpus collected from the anonymous social media community Reddit between 2012 and 2020, we analyse the conversations of workers from two leading crowdwork platforms to better understand which factors enable and inhibit craftwork in platformised work environments and to establish whether crowdwork is conducive to expressions of craft. Our findings indicate that while crowdwork platforms present themselves as brokers of craft, they labourise craftwork by imposing algorithmic management practices onto it. Simultaneously, crowdworkers are deeply embedded in platform ecologies, which opens new possibilities for the exchange of speech and action
Original languageEnglish
Publication date2022
Number of pages19
Publication statusPublished - 2022
Event38th EGOS Colloquium 2022: Organizing: The Beauty of Imperfection - Vienna University of Economics and Business, Wien, Austria
Duration: 7 Jul 20229 Jul 2022
Conference number: 38


Conference38th EGOS Colloquium 2022
LocationVienna University of Economics and Business
Internet address


  • Carft
  • Crowdwork
  • Platform economy
  • Topic modelling
  • Arendt

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