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Research Methods in Science Studies: Studying "On-Demand Work" in the 21st Century
SISP 240
Spring 2020 not offered

Pocket computers, called "smartphones," have become a part of everyday life over the past decade. Earlier, during the early years of the Internet, eBay pioneered the "peer-to-peer" marketplace, in which a business doesn't have a place of business and hire employees, but provides software that links "users" to one another so that they can make exchanges, serving the roles of "customer" and "employee." The firm that creates the software takes a commission on the sale, or simply profits from the information it gathers about the users as they make the exchange. Massive amounts of economic activity have been generated using this model: through services like Amazon's Mechanical Turk, Uber, Postmates, TaskRabbit, and many other software-based labor markets that allow people to work when they choose, as little or as much as they choose. How do we study work and workers in these kinds of contexts? This course will train students in the use of qualitative social scientific methods to examine these new working populations and the work experience of people in them. We will draw, in part, from earlier studies of mobile workplaces (such as of the police on patrol), and more recent studies undertaken by scholars of science and technology in society that help us to look for labor even where it is not intuitively evident in the digitally networked context: such as in computerized gambling, software-facilitated dating, and activity on social media. Students will read a National Science Foundation research proposal and draft their own proposal for a study of work in the "on demand," "contingent," and "gig" economy of the twenty-first century.
Credit: 1 Gen Ed Area Dept: SBS SISP
Course Format: Lecture / DiscussionGrading Mode: Graded
Level: UGRD Prerequisites: None
Fulfills a Major Requirement for: (IDEA-MN)(IDEA)

Last Updated on JUN-24-2024
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