Worker Resistance in Digital Capitalism| A Politics of Judgment?: Alienation and Platformized Creative Labor

Michael L Siciliano


What possibilities for collective struggle exist within platformized creative labor processes? Creative labor’s platformization exacerbates barriers to collective resistance. These barriers include widespread entrepreneurial dispositions and divergence in terms of workers’ experiences, narratives, practices, and class interests. I show how routine and expressive workers involved in the production of YouTube content share a distinctive dispossession: alienated judgment. Based on 10 months of ethnographic fieldwork conducted in a YouTube management company and interviews with managers, office staff, and content producers, I argue that alienated judgment provides a possibility for collective resistance across creative class fractions. Creative labor requires judgment, yet routine and expressive workers’ judgments are subordinate to platforms’ affordances and governance as well as racialized and gendered managerial hierarchies. I highlight major obstacles to collective resistance among creative workers while holding out the possibility that alienated judgment provides for the articulation of workers’ experience and thus a point around which the digital economy’s divided labor might organize. I conclude by arguing that any collective resistance built on a shared politics of judgment must articulate both the generality of creative labor’s alienation as well as workers’ intersectional identities.


alienation, cognitive capitalism, labor resistance, affect, platform labor, YouTube, social media

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