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2018 | 104 | 227-244
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Immaterial labour - impact of ICT upon new modalities of labour in digital economy

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The main focus of this article is the reflection upon the contemporary changes (paradigm shift) within labour modalities, both in the context of defining and understanding the contemporary concept of labour, as well as its modes of organisation within new dynamic environment of global ‘digital economy’. The starting point refers to the dynamics of ‘disruptive changes’ evoked by information-communication revolution, that fundamentally change (transform) simultaneously: economic, social and cultural sphere, evoking the effect of interference (unintended consequences) difficult to predict. This results in paradigm change within analysis of the contemporary changes in labour modalities, transition from classical approach focused on the structural changes within the economy (described in terms of transition from fordist to post-fordist modes of labour) to post-modern approach with new paradigm of immaterial labour (2.0) as a result of fundamental changes within technology (digital disruption). This article mainly focus on the emergence of new concepts of ‘immaterial work’ (Lazzarato; Hardt and Negri), ‘digital labour’ (Fuchs; Dyer-Witheford, Scholz) and ‘labour 2.0’ (Cote, Pybus), indicating fundamental changes within the nature of work itself, currently based on digital, social and intellectual competences (transition from physical work based on industrial processing of physical goods and services to digital and cognitive work, processing mainly immaterial goods : information, knowledge, symbols) and its consequences within economy, social relations and culture (contemporary lifestyle/ identity). To start with, first part of the article focus on the broader context of the assumed ‘radical change’, evoked by ITC revolution, described by many scientific disciplines in terms of ‘paradigm change’, bringing the interdisciplinary context necessary to understand this phenomena. Second describes new concept of ‘immaterial work’, fully discussed by M. Lazzarato (1996, 2004) Hardt and Negri (2000, 2004), and more recently by Fuchs (2010), Dyer-Witheford (2010), Scholz (2012), both in the context of defining and understanding notion of immaterial labour, as well as its modes of organisation within dynamic environment of global economy, bringing forth the transition from classical, stable modes of employment to more flexible forms of employment (flexicurity), mainly on the basis of the unstable employment model(s). Third part, brings the conclusion noted within second part, underlying (often unintended) consequences coming from the emergence of ‘immaterial work’, or (digital) ‘labour 2.0’, in form of increasing inequality and asymmetry (enormous disparities), in terms of accumulation of wealth (capital) and power (defined in terms of access to diverse social, cultural and digital experiences or required skills or qualifications), evoking the notion of ‘precarity’: symbol of fragile and precarious existence of constantly increasing number of the world's population (Neilson, Rossiter 2008).
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  • Institute of Culture, Jagiellonian University, Cracow, Poland
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