Bronwyn Amelia Fast Frey

Grant Type

Dissertation Fieldwork Grant

Institutional Affiliation

Toronto, U. of

Grant number

Gr. 9899

Approve Date

October 25, 2019

Project Title

Frey, Bronwyn (Toronto, U. of) "The Datafication of Courier Labour: App-Based Food Delivery in Berlin," supervised by Dr. Andrea Muehlebach

How can anthropological understandings of labour better account for the expansion of data-driven capitalism? The anthropology of labour is finely attuned to the varied economic, social, and political relations of exploitation in capitalist systems. However, we are only just beginning to turn our attention to the collection, analysis, and use of big data, which not only translates human activity into data to generate value but opens up multiple human-technology relations. My proposed research will explore how food-delivery-app couriers in Berlin, Germany, are simultaneously sources of exploitable labour and of datafication. I will examine the work processes of app-based bicycle couriers and tech industry workers (e.g. software designers, managers, PR officials) to understand the many ways that data is manipulated, experienced, and embedded in social, economic, and political dynamics. By examining how labour and datafication intersect in food delivery apps, my project will contribute to anthropological understandings of the shifting relations between technology, labour exploitation, and the multiplicity of human-data relations.