WSI Mitteilungen 5/2023

: Issue 05/2023

WSI-Mitteilungen 5/2023, pp. 337-345

Peter Ittermann

Low-skilled Work in Production and Logistics in the Digital Transformation


Contrary to a number of predictions, low-skilled work – in the sense of routine activities in manufacturing and services – is showing remarkable stability in the German economy. Despite possible digital substitution in Industry 4.0 and current challenges in the crisis, low-skilled jobs are being retained or newly created. The article takes up these developments and focuses on digitalisation dynamics and their interactions with the design of low-skilled work in production and logistics. The author points out necessary differentiations, whereby findings on supposed substitution potentials, on the digital optimisation of low-skilled work and extended possibilities of its upgrading are critically discussed. Finally, future requirements for the work-oriented design of low-skilled industrial work are formulated. more … (in German)

WSI-Mitteilungen 5/2023, pp. 346-354

Stefanie Büchner, Korbinian Gall

Digitalisation in Social Welfare Administration. Socio-technical Constellations of Case Processing Using the Example of Youth Welfare Offices


Public administration departments are making intense efforts to improve their work by integrating digital technologies and tools. This article analyses the importance of integrated software solutions (case software, electronic case records) for the processing of cases. The results of the ethnographic study in a German youth welfare office show that case software is not consistently relevant in social administrations. Against this background, casework and the processing of cases can be described as a complex process that involves varying socio-technical constellations. Professionals increasingly perform data work in this context. These findings invite a more precise discussion about the digitalisation of social administrations as person-related organisations, and also provide insight into the circumstances of their data production. more … (in German)

WSI-Mitteilungen 5/2023, pp. 355-364

Hans J. Pongratz

Platform Work: Interim Assessment and Broadening of Perspective


Platform work comprises paid activities that are mediated and transacted via internet platforms. While digital results can be transferred online in location-independent crowdworking, the location-based work of the gig economy, such as driving and delivery services, is carried out locally. The author’s overview of the research demonstrates the largely precarious working conditions and the dependence on one-sided rule-setting and algorithmic control procedures of the platforms. In a broader perspective, network-oriented and product-related platform work is included, because the conditions of online sales or content creation for social networks have many similarities with gig and crowdwork. It is mostly self-employed work, predominantly as a sideline. For all the heterogeneity of this broad spectrum of platform work, there are features familiar from research into the self-employed: competitive pressure, income combinations, partialised work interests. For the representation of interests, therefore, similar challenges arise as in the case of labour policy frameworks for solo self-employment. more … (in German)

WSI-Mitteilungen 5/2023, pp. 365-373

Norbert Huchler

Working with AI How AI Structures Work and What It has in Common with Indirect Control


The article shows that newer subsymbolic AI has similarities to indirect control of work in its mode of operation and is also accompanied by latent structuring effects. In this context, the concepts of subsymbolic AI currently in focus differ from other AI approaches. Therefore, first a classification of AI in the context of the digitalisation of work is given. The author continues with a brief overview of different approaches to the control of work and makes, with regard to the role of technology or AI, a distinction between technically mediated control and control inscribed in the functioning of work tools. The author describes the technology-immanent controlling effects of subsymbolic AI and points out interesting similarities to non-technical indirect control of work. Subsequently, the understanding of control is broadened even further and latent structuring “selectivities” of AI are systematised in order to develop design needs generally and specifically for the work of trade unions and works councils. more … (in German)

WSI-Mitteilungen 5/2023, pp. 374-382

Tanja Carstensen

Digital Transformation of Work – an Interim Summary from Gender Perspectives


The digital transformation of the world of work since the mid-2010s was discussed early on with far-reaching hopes and fears for changes in gender relations. In the meantime, various empirical studies covering a broad range of questions have become available. After some preliminary remarks on the relationship of gender and technology, the article summarises the previous findings along five thematic fields that have emerged as focal points of digitalisation research from a gender perspective: 1. location flexibilisation / working from home, 2. platforms, 3. automation and new demands, 4. discrimination through algorithms and AI, and 5. diversity crisis and (global) inequalities in technology development. The author concludes with an interim assessment of these existing findings and identifies further research needs. more … (in German)

WSI-Mitteilungen 5/2023, pp. 383-391

Maren Baumhauer, Rita Meyer

Digitalisation and Qualification: An (In)determinate Relationship


Digital transformation processes go hand in hand with a continuous change in skilled work across all sectors. In view of the dynamics of the developments, the qualification requirements of the future cannot be precisely determined. In this article, the authors discuss problems, challenges and solutions associated with this situation. From a vocational and work-pedagogical perspective, the example of the German chemical industry focuses on the operational strategies for dealing with the digital transformation. On the one hand, the article shows that formal qualification is losing importance in companies compared to competence development (non-formal and informal) in shared practices and also in social networks. On the other hand, the subjects’ comprehensive professional competence and their willingness to incorporate this into the digitised work processes are gaining in relevance. Against this background, there is a need for individual, flexible and company-specific learning opportunities in order to prepare employees both for the increasing complexity of work processes and for dealing with uncertainty in digital change. more … (in German)

WSI-Mitteilungen 5/2023, pp. 392-400

Thomas Haipeter, Gabi Schilling

Works Councils and Digitalisation The Relevance of Trade Union Activation Projects Illustrated by the Example of “Arbeit 2020 in NRW”


The article analyses the patterns of action works councils develop in dealing with digitalisation processes and the role trade union activation projects can play in this process, which is aimed at improving the competences of works councils in the scope of their ability to act. This is illustrated by the example of the trade union project “Arbeit 2020 in NRW” (“Work 2020 in North Rhine-Westphalia”), which can be regarded as one of the core projects of a trade union to activate works councils on the issue of digitalisation. The project’s focus on activating design-oriented and strategically-oriented works council strategies stands clearly in contrast to other research findings, according to which works council representation policy is reactive and is geared towards protective interests. In this article, the authors examine the possibilities and limits of improving the capacity to act of works councils based on trade union activation projects and what this implies for the dissemination of new practices of interest representation and for the interaction between trade unions and works councils. more … (in German)

WSI-Mitteilungen 5/2023, pp. 401-407

Detlef Gerst

Digitalisation and Trade Unions. Scopes for Design, Balance und Perspectives


The article evaluates union activities in the field of digitalisation, starting by discussing the challenges of digitalisation for codetermination. - Three fields of action are highlighted: politics and law, collective bargaining policy, in-plant work policy. The article comes to the conclusion that unions have gained considerable competence in designing digitalised work but they face a limited application of their concepts and work policy. To improve the uptake of their concepts trade unions need to improve the cooperation between central specialised divisions, local divisions and the works councils. more … (in German)