The Quantified Self in Precarity
Work, Technology and What Counts
Routledge – 2018 – 234 pages
Series: Routledge Advances in Sociology
Humans are accustomed to being tool bearers, but what happens when machines become tool bearers, calculating human labour via the use of big data and people analytics by metrics?
The Quantified Self in Precarity highlights how,whether it be in insecure ‘gig’ work or office work, such digitalisation is not an inevitable process – nor is it one that necessarily improves working conditions. Indeed, through unique research and empirical data, Moore demonstrates how workplace quantification leads to high turnover rates, workplace rationalisation and worker stress and anxiety, with these issues linked to increased rates of subjective and objective precarity.
Scientific management asked us to be efficient. Now, we are asked to be agile. But what does this mean for the everyday lives we lead?
With a fresh perspective on how technology and the use of technology for management and self-management changes the ‘quantified’, precarious workplace today, The Quantified Self in Precarity will appeal to undergraduate and postgraduate students interested in fields such as Science and Technology, Organisation Management, Sociology and Politics.
This is a compelling, timely and a much-needed analysis of the ways in which technological developments are increasingly affecting the sphere of labour and employment relationships. It covers a variety of pertinent and topical issues including automation, precarity, quantification, and surveillance at the workplace, thereby advancing the current debates on these issues. I highly recommend this book to anyone seeking to understand the intricate interplay between technology, power and agency in the context of work.
Btihaj Ajana, King's College London and Aarhus University
This original admixture of critical analysis and passionately written warnings against the dark sides of algorithmic rule raises fundamental questions about human involvement with machines. Exploring the variety of ways to quantify work and workers, Moore offers a rich account of the oppressive effects of calculative practices and politically promising ways to counter them.
Minna Ruckenstein, University of Helsinki, Finland
Moore’s book offers a timely overview of the critical models of the working body as a labour value. What counts, in Moore’s astute narrative, is how the fleshed capital potential of this value is measured and turned into data. The Quantified Self, as Moore argues, may be used as units for the service of post-industrial processes, yet this value’s very identification has enabled sites of resistance, generative of affirmative moments of change.
Felicity Colman, Kingston University, London
It is difficult to measure the significance of the tracking of activities, emotions and experiences in the precarious workplace, yet Phoebe Moore offers us invaluable and timely tools for such a critique. She greatly magnifies our understanding of self-quantification by skewering its role in contemporary management techniques but also by demanding we consider the messy materiality of working lives reshaped by this corporate capture.
Kylie Jarrett, author of Feminism, Labour and Digital Media: The Digital Housewife
Chapter 1 Getting to know the autonomic self
Chapter 2 Labour processes from Industrial Betterment to Agility: Mind, Body, Machine
Chapter 3 Precarity 4.0: A political economy of new materialism and the quantified worker
Chapter 4 Unseen labour and all-of-life surveillance
Chapter 5 Meet Some Self-Trackers
Chapter 6 Robot Army of Redressers?
Phoebe V. Moore is an active researcher and a Senior Lecturer in International Relations at Middlesex University, UK