The Quantified Self in Precarity: Work, Technology and What Counts (Hardback) book cover

The Quantified Self in Precarity

Work, Technology and What Counts

By Phoebe V. Moore

© 2018 – Routledge

234 pages

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pub: 2017-09-21
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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

Table of Contents

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?

About the Author

Phoebe V. Moore is an active researcher and a Senior Lecturer in International Relations at Middlesex University, UK

About the Series

Routledge Advances in Sociology

This series presents cutting-edge developments and debates within the field of sociology. It provides a broad range of case studies and the latest theoretical perspectives, while covering a variety of topics, theories and issues from around the world. It is not confined to any particular school of thought.

Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
BUSINESS & ECONOMICS / Workplace Culture
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Sociology / General