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5 Ross Definitions


% Steve Jeannot completed

Taylorism was thought of by Frederick Winslow Taylor in his book The Principles of Scientific Management. Frederick Taylor believed that decisions should have more precise procedures. These procedures could not be developed until the individual at work was carefully studied. Taylorism dealt with the following general approaches. There is to be a standard method for performing each and every job. Certain workers would be selected for certain jobs based on their abilities to perform the job, meaning that they would be chosen for the job based upon if they had the required skills necessary for the job. Training would be provided to each person who was hired for the job. The training would be centered around how to perform the job that they were hired for. The work day would be planned for each employee ahead of time. This way they could eliminate most of the interruptions that occur from not having the day planned out. If an employee out performed other employees, such as increased productivity or output, they would be given a wage incentive, such as a raise or a bonus.
Taylorism was supposed to make the workforce better by providing a scientific approach to business management and process improvement. Also, it taught people about the importance of compensation for performance, which would give bonuses or raises for people performing better than others. Managers began to study the tasks required for everyone’s job and not just their own. The right person for the right job is important and training that person to perform that job correctly was equally important.

Glad I learned about Taylorism last semester in my Labor, Technology and the Changing Workplace course.


% Simone Glover completed

According to readwrite.com; the definition of Attention Economy is a marketplace where consumers agree to receive services in exchange for their attention.

This means that as a consumer, I am willing to pay attention to ads for products and services if I can be heard through blogs, feeds and posts.  The sad truth is that this is an “attention economy” where information is written and posted online and the writer has no rights to the content anymore because it is owned by the company for which is distributing the data.  Therefore, my definition of Ross’ “attention economy” is how authors are all out trying to be heard and attract attention while submitting their work to big business, but are not recognized and or compensated appropriately.  In addition; work is not protected and is vulnerable to the Capitalist to produce the author’s work as if it belonged to them.

Readwrite.com also explains: News feeds illustrate the point well, since they ask for consumers attention in exchange for the opportunity to show them advertising. Search engines also show ads (asking for consumers attention) in exchange for helping users find answers online (a service provided for free in exchange for that attention).

A key point is that The Attention Economy is about the consumer having choice – they get to choose where their attention is ‘spent’. Another key ingredient in the attention game is relevancy. As long as the consumer sees relevant content, he/she is going to stick around – and that creates more opportunities to sell.


% Diami Virgilio completed

Post 1.

“Taylorism” (40).

Taylorism is the system created by Frederick Winslow Taylor to analyze and manage the methods of labor engaged in by workers with an eye toward increasing efficiency and production. Taylor termed his methodology scientific management as it entailed tactics such as measuring the distance a worker swung his arm back when operating a hammer, designing the work space so a laborer took a specified amount of steps and keeping a worker moving until all of the day’s labor was complete. Astonishingly, Taylor believed his system was benefiting workers by taking some of the guesswork out of their actions and providing a methodology suited to the limits of the human body. Unfortunately, this system incentivized pushing said body all the way to ninety to a hundred percent of its limits rather than allowing workers any form of non micromanaged freedom of expression. Taylor believed that at heart workers were lazy and that their “soldiering” or loafing led to great losses of production. A system wherein their every moment was controlled would increase production and also inculcate in the worker a routinized form of completing his job that was without guesswork.

Within the digital realm, this is replicated through processes such as mechanical turking where workers perform compartmentalized duties alienated completely from their product accoriding to gamified work specs that really only value low cost micromanaged completion of tasks, not valuation of labor or room for innovation which is typically the province of the management or outsourcer..


% Yauheniya Chuyashova completed

This article talks about discounted labor. Ross considers discounted labor as the result of digital media. One of the examples that stood out for me is white collar/no collar interns. This is close to me because it is what I am dealing with right now. If you have internship it is the same as having a job. Internship requires lots of hours. You do everything, you do around 30 hours per week but you don’t get pay for it. Free internships are growing very fast, 50% of U.S. internships are unpaid or below minimum wage. The main point of the free internship is the employer, but of course it happens very rare; “An unpaid internship might help build a resume and win a foot in the door, or leg up in the skilled labor market”. All this internships were made to help the students in their future. The purpose is to give them a hand and a lot of experience. But at the end it benefit only corporations who uses free labor. Personally in my situation I cannot afford having an internship because I don’t have family here to support me, so some how I need to pay my bills and school.

Another example is reality TV shows. TV starts using free labor also. “The production costs of these shows are a fraction of what producers pay for conventional, scripted drama, while the rating and profits have been mercurial. Indeed, they are so cheap to make the virtually all the production costs are earned back from the first network showing: syndicated or overseas sales are pure profit”. Why would they pay lots of money for the professional actor if they can have people who can do it for free. Their payment will be their faces on TV, chance to show yourself and may be become famous.


% Janelle Figueroa completed

Ross describes distributive labor as a way of the Internet to be able to use the left over mind power of random individuals. In this new model of distributive labor, Ross says that those who participate in this are not paid workers or your stereotypical people who go to coffee shops to write in their notebooks instead of the privacy and silence of their own home because they gain something from hearing other people’s stories. The people that can actually be seen participating in this type of labor are those who do not necessarily think or realize that what they are doing online is really considered work. This type of labor does not require much of the individual. It is not difficult and it does not need much concentration, since it is only supposed to be a distraction for the people. It’s very simple, non-excruciating labor. The people doing the jobs, called “taskers” usually have no prior knowledge about what product they are working for. Coordinating managers are the people that have all the authority and control over what happens with the labor process these “taskers” go through. According to what we read from Ross, we can assume that this kind of labor leads into what is called the donor labor. It is more or less giving up your time to do “work you just couldn’t help doing.” What kind of labor is real hard work anymore, when employers don’t expect much from you or expect you to just want to give up your time to do whatever they want you to?


% Marisa Chung completed

Marisa Chung
Ross Definition

Ross describes feminization of labor as doing unpaid work that involves women in the majority, such as (unpaid) internships. He includes that women are most likely to dominate the most precarious sectors of white collar and no collar employment, and are assigned the majority of unpaid internships (77% according to one survey).  Although getting an internship is a great opportunity to step in the workplace, unpaid internships requires as much hard work and effort as any other paid worker, but unfortunately do not guarantee an individual with a job when the internship is finished.


% Yesenia Williams completed

We have seen a drastic change in how the economy produces. Where it was once the exchange of goods, which began with the industrial revolution, has now turned into an exploitative version of mass production. Only this time, it is not just underpaid workers banging out merchandise at record speeds, but online activity that is considered free labor. Andrew Ross describes this as “attention economy”. Essentially, what the online users draw their attention to is what the CEO’s of major web companies such as AOL, FB, of today are aiming to grasp, analyze, gather, and gain revenue from. Ross examines this idea and discusses the case against Arianna Huffington, Ceo of Huffington Post, where she blatantly denied her users/bloggers the right to be compensated for their activity. Many were appalled at her brazen responses to the idea of “being paid”. The case found that the owner had no obligation to pay for something that was never agreed upon in any form of contract between the two parties. This kind of behavior is precisely the type of behavior that promotes attention economy, where users attention is measured more as a product and consider the findings of data to determine their “next move” as a motive for further advertising. It is all largely motivated by dollars and branding. The deliberately placed ads in our computers are constantly drawing us to a specific place. However with the underlying compulsion that grips people to be in constant connection on social media and share digital content without the thought of compensation is the driving force behind the success of this ongoing reality on the web.



% Angeline Henriquez completed



Angeline Henriquez

Digital Media and Society


Ross Definitions- “Feminization of Work”


In chapter 1 Ross dives into one aspect of the free-labor frenzy, internships, and how this has affected women in a disproportionate manner. Internships, Ross states, are “the fastest growing job category of recent years for a large slice of educated youth trying to gain entry into work places” (23). However, although individuals go to extreme measure to land and keep a white-collar internship, the chances of them getting a job out if it are slim. Ross compares it to “the equivalent of a lottery ticket”. The only real beneficiaries in this equation are the employers who make a profit of $2 billion dollars from the work employed by the interns. Ross then questions why, given the lack of transparency in white-collar internships, individuals are not running towards apprenticeships instead. Here is where it presents a conflict for women. Only “10% of registered apprentices are female” which results in women being allocated in 77% of unpaid internships, and thus affected disproportionately which is known among sociologists as the “feminization of labor” but Ross goes a step further in defining this term. He states that in this instance, the feminization of labor not only takes place because of the number of women in internships, but because of the lack of transparency and regulations that separate “task and contract” and “duty and opportunity”. This occurrence only promotes a communal mindset of self-exploitation as a rite of passage, and reinforces the blurry lines that underlie the unfairness in the freelance and salaried fields.


% Sergio Rodriguez completed

When Ross uses the term “false consciousness” in the very last sentence on page 37, he is referring to a Marxist concept that has typically categorized those workers who do not subscribe to a Marxist ideology as being duped or brainwashed by the capitalist overlords. Essentially, it’s a way to enforce pressure on individuals to fall in line with Marxist or rather communist platforms, where the definition of the worker self is in agreement with the necessity for a communist or Marxist revolution against the capitalist system.

Ross begins this section by delving into what the commonly agreed upon (from Marx onward to present day) definitions of work or labor are, in a historic sense. To apply an equally outdated (and definitely intended as a pejorative) term to a subsection of the population that works but not in the traditionally (and rigidly) defined way that waged labor is historically classified as, exposes the limitations that Marxist applications for understanding the way labor has shifted in the digital age. By advocating for a more flexible analysis or perspective on the types of labor being performed in the present day (unwaged labor which is indeed more common across the board in many nations and across many derivations of individual identities of workers) Ross frees the subset of the workforce that might be considered superfluous or in denial about the exploitation of their own labor contributions. By flipping the last two sentences at the close of page 37, Ross is basically saying that perhaps these workers (the under-40’s contending with the mutable conditions and rapidly shifting age of neoliberal economic and cultural mores) are not as naïve or brainwashed as a traditional Marxist analysis of waged labor would suggest.

I liked this section because Ross applied an intersectional analysis of labor through raising the issue of the how these terms have hegemonically dominated ideas of what labor and work look like. When I hear the term unwaged labor I immediately think of several different models of workers that have never had access to the protections of a labor analysis, one that is based on the ideas and models developed out of the organizing of union card carrying cismale industrial workers. This group includes sex workers and undocumented workers; these folks are largely charged with having a false consciousness about their situations… as if agreeing to assume positions that are typically outside of the moral and often nationalistic concerns of society are inherently evil, wrong, or due to the misgivings of an individual. That line of thinking fails to put the onus of the conditions that created a space for this kind of labor to exist – the systems and structures of the capital and the state, these hierarchies are what drive people to participate in “illicit” labor, it’s basic survival of the fittest. (I might even include those who work other street economies – but most folks are going to have a hard time understanding the previous two categories I suggested.)



% Giselle Lopez completed

According to Ross Distributed labor is suggested as a way of describing the use of the Internet to mobilize the spare processing power of a widely dispersed crowd of discrete individuals. Distributed Labor, is categorized in two terms. First, it doesn’t necessarily refer to the old term in applied in the last decade when technology was not as advanced as it is today. Instead, distributed labor refers as the technology work-flow and work place that is known as the mobile office because it could be performed everywhere. The “privilege” of distributed labor is that it could be performed anywhere as long as there is a connection. According to Ross the ones to perform this type of task are the freelancers or e-lancers he categorized them. Obviously, distributed labor as the term refers, tasks are distributed in an organized manner according to the existing talent of micro-division but a lower cost. Meaning that the labor being done isn’t free of cost; the costs is a lot less than the traditional. But as long as there is a network connecting and the job is being performed and productive it does not matter. Distributed Labor, is seen everywhere, obviously when production can be performed at a lower cost by more individuals and be even more profitable it does not matter. Obviously, corporations benefit from individuals such as freelancers, and others who are skilled and have the ability to complete task according to their business needs.