Neoliberal Conceptions of the Individual in Labour Law

Research output: Chapters, Conference Papers, Creative and Literary Works (RGC: 12, 32, 41, 45)12_Chapter in an edited book (Author)

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Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Collective Dimensions of Employment Relations
Subtitle of host publicationInterdisciplinary Perspectives on Workers’ Voices and Changing Workplace Patterns
EditorsTindara Addabbo, Edoardo Ales, Ylenia Curzi, Tommaso Fabbri, Olga Rymkevich, Iacopo Senatori
Place of PublicationCham
PublisherPalgrave Macmillan
Pages117-154
ISBN (Electronic)9783030755324
ISBN (Print)9783030755317, 9783030755348
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2021

Abstract

This chapter examines how neoliberal conceptions of the individual as an economic agent enter legal evaluations of the employment status of platform workers. I focus on SuperShuttle DFW, a recent decision denying labour rights to airport shuttle drivers. My analysis shows how platform companies, through the design of work practices and discursive techniques, can cue neoliberal conceptions of what it means to be in business for oneself as an ‘entrepreneur’. For example, like many other platforms, SuperShuttle permitted—required—its workers to select their working times. It convinced the tribunal that an individual’s choice to work longer hours was an entrepreneurial strategy. The platform depicts time management as entrepreneurship by modelling the individual subject on the neoliberal corporation. This rendering displaces the liberal notion of the individual as the owner of labour with its neoliberal counterpart, the individual as the manager of a human capital portfolio. Working longer hours reflects a discretionary investment of a human capital asset—time. It is therefore entrepreneurial. The analysis suggests that the practices and discourse of platform companies bear a relation of ‘elective affinity’ (Weber 1946, p. 42) to neoliberal rationality in legal argument. It also shows how neoliberal rationality conflates worker discretion with autonomy.

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Month & Research Unit(s) information for this publication is provided by the author(s) concerned.

Citation Format(s)

Neoliberal Conceptions of the Individual in Labour Law. / TOMASSETTI, Julia Louise.

The Collective Dimensions of Employment Relations: Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Workers’ Voices and Changing Workplace Patterns. ed. / Tindara Addabbo; Edoardo Ales; Ylenia Curzi; Tommaso Fabbri; Olga Rymkevich; Iacopo Senatori. Cham : Palgrave Macmillan, 2021. p. 117-154.

Research output: Chapters, Conference Papers, Creative and Literary Works (RGC: 12, 32, 41, 45)12_Chapter in an edited book (Author)