Algorithmic Exploitation: Understanding Labor Process and Control among RideHailing Platform Workers


  • M. Falikul Isbah Universitas Gadjah Mada


workers, Labour Process Theory, control, ride-hailing platforms, exploitation


This study analyzes the labor process of ride-hailing workers and the platform
company’s control over them. This research employs Labour Process Theory (LPT)
to examine the labor process and control critically. Based on in-depth interviews
with motorcycle drivers working for Go-Jek and Grab between June 2020 and June
2021 in Yogyakarta, Kediri, and Jakarta, this research found that labor or workers
are transformed into a commodity where job supply and demand are confounded and
mediated by digital platforms. Algorithmic management, utilized in this industry, plays
a significant role in this digital industry, including its use as a point of production and as
a mechanism of control and monitoring in the workplace. The use of feedback systems,
ratings, and platform ratings as a consequence of emotional work is used by managers
to help monitor their employees. Furthermore, this study reveals that the form of control
conducted by the platform represents an unequal power relation, which produces
dissatisfaction and conflicts. We argue that the labor process in this job resembles what
we coined “algorithmic exploitation,” which means that the platform companies are
deliberately using technology and obscuring the control process over the operations of
the workers to instill the high standards of service, while the workers are trapped in a
very weak employment status as “partners.”