: Issue 03/2020

WSI Mitteilungen 3/2020, pp. 155-164

Florian R. Hertel

Sociostructural change and inequality in the German class society


The article examines the relationship between occupational change and stratification following the evolution of the German postindustrial service-oriented social structure. Initially, the author proposes dissolution, polarization, and decoupling as three hypothetical developments of the German stratification system. Dissolution implies that classes cease to represent important vertical differences between social positions. Polarization points towards growing inequalities between the highest and lowest class positions, whereas decoupling amounts to a situation in which high or low classes are set apart by displaying greater vertical inequality than horizontally similar class positions. These three alternative pathways of the stratification system are then investigated applying simple statistics to nationally representative trend data. The author investigates changes in class structure, economic inequality and intergenerational mobility over the last 40 years. Overall, the results point towards a parallel decoupling of working classes in the interpersonal service segment and increasing closure in the highest classes. more … (in German)

WSI Mitteilungen 3/2020, pp. 165-173

Jonas Wiedner, Johannes Giesecke, Zerrin Salikutluk

Increasing migration-related inequality through technological and sectoral change? The labour market position of Turkish immigrants in Germany between 1976 and 2013


Current debates on structural changes within the German labour market due to technological development rarely touch upon the consequences these changes imply for immigrants. In this article, the authors thus investigate how structural change in the German economy has affected labour market integration amongst immigrants. Using data gathered from the German micro-census between the years 1976 and 2013, they compare the labour market outcomes relating to Germans and first-generation Turkish immigrants. The results demonstrate that the differences in qualification levels between both groups have increased due to educational expansion in Germany. At the same time, formal qualifications have become more important as the German labour market has been increasingly dominated by the service sector. As a result, male Turkish immigrants in particular face increasingly higher unemployment risks, lower occupational positions and lower incomes compared to German nationals. Contrary to the predictions of standard theories, the labour market chances for immigrants have not improved over time. Rather, sectoral change has had negative consequences for the economic integration of the first generation of Turkish immigrants. more … (in German)

WSI Mitteilungen 3/2020, pp. 174-181

Florian Butollo, Robert Koepp

The dual embeddedness of logistics, and the limits to precarious employment


The article investigates the changing production model in retail logistics. Retail logistics is dually embedded: in value chains and in the socio-structural patterns of local labour markets. Given demographic change and new subjectively-based demands of workers towards labour, logistics companies face increasing difficulties sourcing their labour force from the local secondary labour market – a practice that used to be common in the phases of rapid expansion in retail logistics in the 1990s and 2000s. The analysis of two case studies, expert interviews and secondary material point out measures taken by companies to counter the destabilisation of their production model. The counter measures, so-called “fixes”, encompass a combination of a socio-spatial expansion of recruitment practices, technology-driven rationalisation and a strengthening of ties between the workforce and the companies’ employment system. This constellation allows for a window of opportunity for progressive labour policies (Arbeitspolitik), as well as an upgrading of employment conditions among the service sector proletariat (Dienstleistungsproletariat) in retail logistics. more … (in German)

WSI Mitteilungen 3/2020, pp. 182-192

Christine Gerber

Crowdworkers between autonomy and control. The stabilisation of division of labour through algorithmic management


Using the example of crowdwork, the article describes the changes in power relations between capital and labour through the use of algorithmic work control systems on digital platforms. The starting point is the widespread assumption that algorithmic systems could exacerbate the direct and repressive control of labour. By contrast, the author explores to what extent the consent and active participation of the crowd is also mobilised in algorithmic management on crowdwork platforms and what role technology plays in this process. The results highlight that both consent and participation are necessary to stabilise the division of labour even in the comprehensive systems of algorithmic management. A central mechanism for this is information asymmetries: they regulate the crowd’s knowledge and options for action. This indirect and subtle form of control obscures and perpetuates the work and power relations by providing some degree of autonomy. This seems to be necessary in order to maintain a relationship of control over the mobile and independent crowd and secure its effective exploitation through self-discipline. more … (in German)

WSI Mitteilungen 3/2020, pp. 193-200

Philipp Staab, Sascha-Christopher Geschke

Digital ratings in the tertiary working environment


Digital ratings are a key element in creating consumer confidence on the commercial Internet. With the rise of algorithmic management tools in the working environment, these technology applications are increasingly being used as operational evaluation and control tools in various service areas. Based on the example of a particularly comprehensive rating system, the article examines the effects associated with this technology for performance measurement, quality of work and operational inequality. The authors show that digital rating systems can be used to monitor performance and structure wages, and run the risk of creating new inequalities in the operational context. more … (in German)

WSI Mitteilungen 3/2020, pp. 201-208

Simon Schaupp

Taylorism or cybernetics? A short history of algorithmic labour control


The concept of “digital Taylorism” has become the blueprint for interpreting algorithmic labour control. This article examines which elements of Taylorism actually are adopted in algorithmic labour control and positions cybernetics as an alternative point of reference for historical interpretation. The author concludes that the concept of digital Taylorism adequately underscores the aspects of segmentation and simplification of the labour process and, in part, of information asymmetry. However, the concept cannot capture the central aspects of feedback, self-organisation and automation of middle management, as well as the instability of digitalised employment relationships, since these are essentially based on the cybernetic theory of control. Cybernetics is currently undergoing a revitalisation in the field of digital labour control, since, for the first time, the development of digital sensor technology makes the central cybernetic idea of permanent feedback technically feasible. more … (in German)

WSI Mitteilungen 3/2020, pp. 209-212

Franziska Foullong

Challenges of digitalisation for co-determination bodies - Practical experience


Digital pay control or performance monitoring systems have been used in the service sector for some time. Particularly relevant questions in the course of the current wave of digitalisation are of how co-determination bodies deal with this, what options for action they have and what effects employees are confronted with. The author examines the complex challenges facing co-determination bodies and workforces ; reflecting on what role unions play and could play in this context. more … (in German)