How digital workers acculturate into algorithms: The case of Uber drivers in Cape Town

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review


This article investigates the mechanisms of motivation at play in digital work, and addresses a paradox of platform-based work, which tends to create highly constrained environments through algorithmic management, but also attracts and retains an increasing population of workers. Interviews with 47 Uber drivers in Cape Town, South Africa, revealed that platform-based work contributes to cognitive, emotional and agentic enhancement, leading individuals to acculturate into the algorithm. Drivers accept the constraints generated by the algorithm and focus on activities that the algorithm made paramount for work performance. Our findings contribute to the literature on algorithmic management and sociomateriality by unveiling the mechanisms through which digital workers and technology become entangled. In particular, we conceptualize the role of cognition and emotions in the building of the relationships between humans and machines.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusUnpublished - 2020
Event36th EGOS Colloquium Hamburg 2020: Organizing for a Sustainable Future: Responsibility, Renewal & Resistance - University of Hamburg, Hamburg, Germany
Duration: 2 Jul 20204 Jul 2020


Conference36th EGOS Colloquium Hamburg 2020
Abbreviated titleEGOS 2020
Internet address


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