CAIML Seminar: “The Infrastructural Power of Digital Platforms (and how to challenge it)”

Marco Marrone presents the concept of the infrastructural power of digital platforms.


June 13th 2024

  • 16:00 – 17:00 CEST
  • FAV Hörsaal 3, Zemanek
  • 1040 Vienna, Favoritenstraße 9-11


The concept of the infrastructural power of digital platforms will be presented in this talk. In the last years, critical approaches on platform labor studies have dedicated efforts in analyzing the power of digital platforms. However, they have mostly concentrated on the despotic features characterizing platform labor regime. Moving from Michael Mann’s distinction between despotic and infrastructural power I will argue how digital despotism represents only a partial understanding of the power of digital platforms. The notion of the infrastructural power will be presented as the ability of digital platforms to invisibly act, influencing workers' behavior, individuals’ beliefs and, more broadly, the social order we are living. The origins of the infrastructural power, the logic that governs its functioning, and the implications it has for both workers and society will be discussed employing both theoretical understandings and empirical data developed by the author in almost ten years of study in the food delivery sector. Finally, the infrastructural lens will also be employed as a promising path to understand how workers’ protests and social movements can effectively challenge the power of digital platforms.

About the Speaker

Marco Marrone (1987) holds a Phd in Sociology and Social Research from the University of Bologna. He is currently Assistant Professor at the Department of Human and Social Sciences, University of Salento (Lecce). He has been involved in EU H2020 project PLUS (Platform Labour in Urban Spaces) and is part of INDL (International Network of Digital Labour). He is studying the food delivery sector for the last ten years, also being directly involved in the organizing of couriers at both national and international level. His research interests move from platform capitalism, digitalization of labour, urban economies and the rise of informal unionism. Among his most recent publications: with Nicola Quondamatteo: “Struggle for recognition, a lever to establish Industrial Relations from below. Reinterpreting couriers’ mobilisations in food delivery sector in Italy”, PACO, 16 (2), pp. 252 – 267; with Federico Chicchi and Antonio Casilli: “Digital Labor and the crisis of the wage labor system. Sociologia del Lavoro. Vol. 163”; with Gianmarco Peterlongo: “Where platforms meet infrastructures: digital platforms, urban resistance and the ambivalence of the city in the Italian case of Bologna”. Work Organisation, Labour & Globalisation, 14(1), 119-135”. He is also author of a monography published in Italian named “Rights Against the Machines! Il lavoro digitale e le lotte dei rider”.