1st Edition

The Quantified Self in Precarity Work, Technology and What Counts

By Phoebe V. Moore Copyright 2018
    244 Pages
    by Routledge

    244 Pages
    by Routledge

    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.

    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?


    Prof Phoebe V Moore is Professor of Management and the Futures of Work at the University of Essex School of Business.

    "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

    "Stinging in its analysis and demanding in its outlook, the text is urgent and unflinching. Its unequivocal and unhesitant style of argument are really compelling, it provokes a response and gives the reader something to think and argue with. [...] The processes of quantification include decisions about what is visible and they do this within a context that they are shaping and defining. The triumvirate of agility, precarity and quantification is placed as central to understanding this. These are matters that have been calling for the kind of treatment they have been given here. There is still much more to be explored, yet Moore's book provides the orientation and insights that can inform an analysis of just what it means when the quantification of the worker is ratcheted up to new levels of measurement, precarity and visibility."

    David Beer (2018) 'The quantified self in precarity: work, technology and what counts', Information, Communication & Society, DOI: 10.1080/1369118X.2018.1442489