The Rise of Algorithmic Labour in China: Platform, Technology and Delivery Workers


6:00 PM - 7:00 PM


  • Time: 18:00-19:00
  • Date: Monday, 19 April 2021
  • Venue: HS436


This talk discusses the use of ‘algorithms in everyday labour’ to explore the labour conditions of three Chinese food delivery platforms: Baidu, Eleme, and Meituan. In particular, it examines how delivery workers make sense of these algorithms through the parameters of temporality, affect, and gamification. The talk also argues that in working for food delivery platforms, couriers are not simply passive entities subject to a digital ‘panopticon’. Instead, they create their own ‘organic algorithms’ to manage and, in some cases, even subvert the system. The results of the approach used in the study which this talk stems from demonstrate that digital labour has become both more accessible and more precarious in contemporary China. Based on these results, the notion of ‘algorithmic making and remaking’ is suggested as a topic for future research on technology and digital labour.


Dr Sun Ping is an assistant professor in the Department of Journalism and Communication at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences. She obtained her Ph.D. from The Chinese University of Hong Kong and was a visiting scholar at Oxford University. She is the author of two books, and her articles have been published in journals like New Media and Society, Information, Communication and Society, Chinese Journal of Communication, Computer in Human Behavior, International Journal of Communication, etc. Her research interests include ICTs, new media, and digital labour.

You may be interested.