by Ursula Huws
The workplace has been changed in recent decades by the rise of digital technologies. Parts of a single labor process can be moved around the world, with implications not only for individual workplaces or firms, but for the working class as a whole. Computer operators in India process medical transcriptions for doctors in the United States at one-eighth of what U.S. computer operators would earn, and at four times the salary of an Indian schoolteacher.Within advanced capitalist countries, the workplace has been made more “flexible” through cellphones, e-mail, freelancing, and outsourcing. The same process often makes the situation of the worker more precarious, as they are forced to pay for the tools of their trade, made constantly accessible to the demands of the workplace, and isolated from their fellow-workers.
Huws’ Making of a Cybertariat examines this process from a number of perspectives. It focuses especially on women in the workplace and at home. It examines changing categories of employment, and modes of organization. It shows how new divisions of race and gender are created in the process, and sets out an agenda for negotiating them. It explores the ways in which traditional forms of organization are being reshaped, and questions how the emerging cybertariat can become conscious of their common interests and stand together to struggle for them.