Professionals, purpose-seekers, and passers-through: How microworkers reconcile alienation and platform commitment through identity work
Journal article, Peer reviewed
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- Scientific articles 
OriginalversjonNew Media & Society. Online first 2021. 10.1177/14614448211056863
Digital microwork consists of remote and highly decontextualized labor that is increasingly governed by algorithms. The anonymity and granularity of such work is likely to cause alienation among workers. To date we know little about how workers reconcile such potential feelings of alienation with their simultaneous commitment to the platform. Based on a longitudinal survey of 460 workers on a large microworking platform and a combination of quantitative and qualitative analyses, we show that (1) alienation is present in digital microwork. However, our study also finds that (2) workers’ commitment to the platform over time may alter their subjective perceptions of alienation. Drawing from qualitative statements, we show (3) how workers perform identity work that might help reconcile feelings of alienation with simultaneous platform commitment. Our findings contribute to solving the paradox of worker commitment to precarious platform labor, which is an issue frequently raised in the digital labor literature.