Two Narratives of Platform Capitalism | Frank Pasquale

Frank Pasquale (2017) “Two Narratives of Platform Capitalism,” Yale Law & Policy Review: Vol. 35 : Iss. 1 , Article 11; landing, landing.
Frank Pasquale, is a Professor of Law, University of Maryland.

tl;dr → Economists, as a self-conscious class, are storytellers in service to the governing class; their stories are wrong. The Rent-Seeking Behavior obtains. Michel Foucault is invoked. Diagnosis & Nostrum. The Salubious Result obtains. Q.E.D.
and → gig work is sucky work undignified; guaranteed employment is better.

Listicle

  1. [Conventional] Narrative: Market is good.
  2. [Herein] Counternarrative: Gig-market is bad

Abstract

Mainstream economists tend to pride themselves on the discipline’s resemblance to science. But growing concerns about the reproducibility of economic research are undermining that source of legitimacy. These concerns have fueled renewed interest in another aspect of economic thought: its narrative nature. When presenting or framing their work, neoliberal economists tend to tell stories about supply and demand, unintended consequences, and transaction costs in order to justify certain policy positions. These stories often make sense, and warn policymakers against simplistic solutionism.

Mentions

  • narrative == story.
    story == parable.
  • The bible is full of parables
    Footnote  34 cites Ecclesiastes 9:11 to remind about the nature of chance (serendipity, luck): To wit:
    <quote ref=”KJV“>I returned, and saw under the sun, that the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, neither yet bread to the wise, nor yet riches to men of understanding, nor yet favour to men of skill; but time and chance happeneth to them all.</quote>
  • <quote>These stories often make sense, and warn policymakers against simplistic solutionism.</quote>

Platforms increase discrimination by identifying customers with picture-based profiles which reveal their race or racially-identified names. Ranking and rating systems can also reinforce bias.

Conventional Narrative Counternarrative
Platforms promote fairer labor markets by enabling lower-cost entry into these markets by service providers. Platforms entrench existing inequalities and promote precarity by reducing the bargaining power of workers and the stability of employment.
Platforms reduce the impact of discrimination by increasing the number of service providers in transportation, housing, and other markets. Platforms increase discrimination by identifying customers with picture- based profiles which reveal their race or racially-identified names. Ranking and rating systems can also [always & everywhere] reinforce bias.
Regulators of platforms are likely to [always & everywhere] reflect the biases and interests of incumbent providers (like taxis and hotels) thanks to incumbents’ political ties. Large platforms now command so many resources that their own lobbying efforts can easily swamp those of fragmented and uncoordinated incumbents.
Large digital platforms have gained massive market share because of the quality of their service. Large digital platforms have gained massive market share because of luck, first-mover advantage, network effects, lobbying, strategic lawlessness, and the unusually low cost of investment capital due to quantitative easing.
Platforms promote economic growth by drawing the un- and under-employed into the labor market. Platforms undermine growth by reducing wages as workers scramble for gigs by offering to complete them for lower wages than their competitors.
Platforms promote flexibility by breaking down jobs into tasks, enabling workers to piece together work at their own pace. Low-pay gigs and piecework force workers to be “ready for duty” constantly lest they miss an opportunity to work.
Using data-driven profiles of users, platforms can preemptively channel them to the workers they are most compatible with. Users may experience loss of agency when serendipitous or unpredictable options are effectively hidden or obscured

References

There are 39 references, appearing as footnotes in the legalistic style.

Argot

The Suitcase Words
  • economists,
    mainstream economists
  • themselves,
    pride themselves,
    pride themselves on the <snip/> resemblance <snip/>,
    pride themselves on the discipline’s resemblance to science.
  • reproducibility
    the reproducibility,
    the reproducibility of economic research
  • undermining
  • source of legitimacy.
  • narrative,[
    the] narrative nature
  • economists,
    neoliberal economists
  • supply,
    demand,
    supply and demand
  • unintended consequences
  • transaction costs
  • positions,
    policy positions.
  • solutionism,
    simplistic solutionism.

and more in the main corpus.