Resisting norms in a digitally mediated world

The 8th International Workshop on the Sharing Economy (IWSE) took place in Vienna, Austria, this year. This yearly event provides a forum for critical reflections on the developments in the past and an outlook on the future of the sharing economy and related digital platforms.

Notwithstanding their commercial success and growing infrastructural and political power, platforms in the realm of tourism and mobilities have generated substantial unrest and discontentment within societies. Residents struggle to cope with Airbnb-tourism in their neighbourhoods and related disruptions to housing markets; Uber and Lyft drivers grapple with how their work is unevenly allocated, measured, and rewarded by platform companies; meanwhile, governments, policy makers, planners and lawmakers still attempt (with limited success) to bring platforms within the scope of existing and new regulation.

Together with colleagues Julie Wilson and Lluís Garay we have organized a session on “Resisting norms in a digitally mediated world”. Whilst remaining attentive to the disruptions that platforms have brought about, in this session we focused on the practices of resistance that are already part and parcel of today’s platforms and potentially formative of future platform economies. What different kinds of resistance push the boundaries of commonly established norms embedded in platform economies? What does resistance tell us about the kind of platform economies that people aspire to and are yet to be brought into being?

During the session, I presented a paper on “Feminist approaches to digitally mediated tourism and hospitality work.” During my presentation I outlined how feminist theories have aided the study of gendered, racialized, and classed divisions of tourism and hospitality labour that prevail in platform economies. I discussed a case study of the platform Airbnb and the various sources and dynamics of oppression that underline Airbnb hospitality work, and what role the platform plays in altering or sustaining these dynamics.

Presentation screen with the title "Feminist approaches to digitally mediated tourism and hospitality work" presenter