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Edward Webster

The Future of Work in the Digital Age

by Ruth Castel-Branco, Sarah Cook, Hannah Dawson and Edward Webster

It is widely claimed that the rise of digital labor platforms is reshaping the future of work. While some praise the “platform economy” - both online web-based platform work (“crowd work”) performed remotely and location-based platform work carried out in a specified area - for its promise of freedom and flexibility, research shows that the platform economy is deepening the casualization of labor and shifting risks such as occupational...

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Decoding Algorithmic Control

by Sandiswa Mapukata, Shafee Verachia and Edward Webster

The Justice League is a group of superheroes, including but not limited to Batman and Wonder Woman, attempting to save the artificial fictional world from the super villain Darkseid. The Algorithmic Justice League (AJL) founded in 2016, also aspires for a more just and equitable world, particularly in how artificial intelligence (AI) is used. The AJL focuses on promoting four key principles in fighting algorithmic...

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Photo-essay: Jozi, the Precarious City of Gold

by Alexia Webster and Edward Webster

As Africa’s economic hub for over 125 years, Johannesburg – affectionately known as Jozi – is the world’s largest city not built on the banks of a river or near a large port. It has, instead, been built on gold. From its inception, gold mining transformed the world around it through constant innovation, stimulated by waves of migrants from across the region – and indeed the globe. This is evocatively captured in Sarah Nuttall...

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Photo-Essay: Surviving on the Margins

by Alexia Webster and Edward Webster

Many of the jobs that are being created in the inner city of Johannesburg are survivalist jobs, or what have become known as precarious jobs or the informal economy. These include hairdressers and traders working on the street, women and men cleaning taxis at the side of the road, others working from home, or in shebeens (unlicensed taverns), as well as those who pull carts through the streets of the city collecting paper or scrap metal. We photographed...

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Global Labour – A South African Perspective

by Edward Webster

The English historian, E.H. Carr, was said to have remarked that what you see depends on which side of the mountain you stand. I stand in the southern tip of Africa, in Johannesburg, the city of gold.  Johannesburg was built in the first phase of globalization – the first great transformation – in the late nineteenth century. In this brief lecture I will do three things: (1) provide the social context for an understanding of global...

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