I found a broader concern about the way platforms use algorithms to control participants. Platforms’ algorithms create an invisible cage for platform users, because workers have no way of reliably accessing how their data is being processed or used to control their success on the platform. As a result, the platform’s algorithm claims to “know” the workers better than they know themselves, yet in ways that are inaccessible to them.
Doug Ford’s right-wing populism emerged in relation to the material conditions of precariousness that had escalated in the years following the 2008 financial crisis. It tapped into the insecurities of working-class and middle-class voters generated through years of growing inequality, stagnant wages, declining unionization, and the deterioration of public services and institutions. Invoking an old neoliberal trope, its solution to the crisis included measures that would make Ontario “open for business,” including employment standards reforms that undermined basic employment protections for workers in the province. While proclaiming intentions to protect “the people” from “the elite,” Ford’s populism served to sustain and enhance capitalist interests by legitimating legislation that undermines the security of an already precarious workforce.
How we navigate this moment of intense uncertainty and collective anxiety will shape the future. Thinking about the many ways that our precarity manifests will be crucial to avoid re-inscribing the inequalities and injustices of the pre-coronavirus world.