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The Fourth Industrial Revolution? Labour in Times of Digitisation

Around the world, the impact of digitisation on labour is widely discussed. In many accounts, the rising importance of new technologies is presented as a force of nature, overpowering mankind and leaving many without a job. In this paper, instead, current trends in digitisation will be considered as new technological options, which might or might not be applied on the shop-floor and which can have strikingly different results, depending, first of all, on specific power relations, within companies and beyond. Based on the findings of current research in the field of labour sociology, it will be argued that the technological developments we witness today tend to reinforce processes of precarisation, flexibilisation, and skill polarisation that can be observed since the 1980s.

Nicole Mayer-Ahuja is professor of sociology at University of Goettingen, Germany, and director of the Sociological Research Institute (SOFI). Her research focuses on labour, the labour market and its regulation, from a historical and transnational perspective.



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