The Ethics and Politics of Platform Cooperatives

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Abstract

Notions of ethical technology design are gaining increasing attention from companies, legislators, researchers, and activists. But what does it mean to integrate values into a technology’s design? Where and how do we find them? And do technologies actually have politics?

The following study takes a disclosive computer ethics approach (DCE) to reconstruct the ethics and politics of cooperatively owned digital platforms. DCE focuses on identifying and evaluating embedded values, moral and political issues, and normativity in information technologies, applications, and practices; especially when these are morally opaque. To do so, I investigate the platforms’ technical components and operations in relation to the institutional conditions in which they operate (as part of their socio- technical complex). The study focuses on two case studies of cooperative platforms: the food delivery platform CoopCycle and the short-term rental platform Fairbnb. For each case study, I identified the moral and political values that are embedded in the platform’s technical design and analyzed them in relation to the platform’s institutional structures as a cooperative. My analysis also stresses the key differences of these platforms from their mainstream platform counterparts (Deliveroo, UberEats, Wolt, and Airbnb).
Original languageEnglish
PublisherInstitute for the Cooperative Digital Economy, The New School
Number of pages63
Publication statusPublished - 14 Mar 2022

Keywords

  • Platform economy
  • digital economy
  • Cooperatives
  • platform cooperatives
  • Ethics and design
  • Ethics and information technology
  • Ethics and technology
  • ethics of information technology
  • Politics of artifacts
  • politics of design
  • Politics of technology

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