Ghost Workers


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Large and small online platforms have become “essential,” especially in Western societies. These platforms are kept in operation – as are large parts of the digital, seemingly fully automated world – by crowdworkers, who are systematically rendered invisible. Bringing light into this shadow world, research has brought “ghost workers” to the fore who are located in countries of the Global South such as India. Less attention is paid to the growing number of crowdworkers in Eastern Europe, and the relationship between the European “center” and the “periphery” in the global digital economy. This is despite the fact that a World Bank study in 2015, for instance, ranked Romania and Serbia as the world’s leading online outsourcing countries – defined as the proportion of crowdworkers in relation to the countries’ total population. In her “Black Box East” video talk social scientist and ethnologist Mira Wallis takes stock of the increasingly exploitative platform labor dynamics between Romania and Germany.

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