PLUS project attended RC21 conference of Delhi 2019 “In and Beyond the City”

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PLUS project attended RC21 conference of Delhi 2019 “In and Beyond the City”, represented by Maurilio Pirone and Mattia Frapporti (UNIBO), and Niccolò Cuppini (SUPSI).

They organised a roundtable the morning of 20 september on “The Global Cahllenges of Platform Economies: A trans urban perspective”.

In this occasion Mattia presented the project, Niccolò some results of wp1 on socio-historical methodology and Maurilio some results of wp2 on Bologna field research.

More info about the event at: https://rc21delhi2019.com/  (also image source)

“The global challenges of “platform economies”: from the PLUS project to a global gaze” (Mattia Frapporti):

Adopting two main geographical scale, the roundtable we are proposing would like to face the global challenges of the so-called “platform capitalism” with a trans-urban approach. Platform economy, in fact, is undoubtedly a global phenomenon which is bursted since the last decade.

All around the world this new type of economy is insinuating in the society imposing new opportunities as well as new challenges, especially for the cities inhabitants. This is the reason why, despite we will theoretically propose an analysis with a general overview on the platform economy, our focus will be on urban areas, where the effects of digital platforms are most apparent.

Consequently, urban spaces are pivotal in this roundtable, even though we do not think of them as strictly bounded. We consider cities as a broad area that «surpass their own contours», integrated in a global network where social requests are developed by a multitude of actors.

Starting from a wide reflection of such a kind of new economy generally considered part of the so-called “Industrial Revolution 4.0”, we will then focus on a specific case study composed by seven key European cities: Barcelona, Berlin, Bologna, Lisbon, London, Paris and Tallinn.

On the one hand, we will face the «critical effects» of platforms in such cities both from an historical, theoretical and empirical point of views; and we will concentrate on how «technological changes affect patterns of exclusions, the formation of social categories, or new and persistent inequalities».

 

“Conceptualizing Trans-Urbanism” (Niccolò Cuppini):

Platforms are first of all urban technologies, impacting directly on metropolitan areas and radically changing and challenging their development. While the previous “industrial revolutions” have had different temporal implementation accordingly to the geopolitical location of the cities, the so called “industrial revolution 4.0” (digital platforms can be conceived as an icon of it) is defining an almost simultaneity of platforms “territorialisation” worldwide.

Therefore, there is a need to conceptualize new analytical and theoretical tools to grasp this dynamic. The intervention will discuss the idea of “trans-urbanism” as a way to define the global emersion of platform capitalism in urban spaces. The elaboration of a trans-urban approach is under construction in a European research project called Platform Labour in Urban Spaces having 7 European cities as case studies, and will be also presented in historical terms.

 

“Platform capitalism, the entrepreneurship of urban condition and new forms of unionism: preliminary results form PLUS project research in Bologna” (Maurilio Pirone):

The image of the platform generally indicates a new type of enterprise based on sharing, aggregation of offer and demand, horizontality of exchange. It is, generally, a business model that is radically transforming the labour market, the organisation of the production process and the forms of consumption.

We should also note the close relationship between many of the companies described as platforms and the urban dimension. On the one hand, the city is increasingly identified in a re-productive space in which activities linked to circulation, consumption and care are central. On the other hand, a new figure of productive subject seems to emerge, that of the urban entrepreneur who valorises some of his/her property related to his condition as a city user (the house, the means of transport) and his/her soft skills.

At the same time, however, it is clear that strong inequalities are created where platforms seem to be able to impose themselves as a winning business model, while digital workers often complain about a lack of protection in terms of rights and salaries. Food delivery expansion and riders’ unionism in the city of Bologna represent stimulating points of view on the role of urban spaces into capitalist accumulation, on new forms of labour immaterial control and workforce subjectivation.

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