Worker Resistance in Digital Capitalism| Platform Counterpublics: Networked Gossip and Resistance Beyond Platforms
The production of alternative discourse about labor platforms provides an opportunity to bridge scholarship on activism across platforms. This analysis advances an understanding of platforms’ power to shape discourse and users’ power to push back. From content producers to Uber drivers, digital laborers find ways to share information. Scholars of online activism have shown that platforms can facilitate counterpublics—communities where excluded voices construct resistant discourses. However, theories of counterpublics are underused in studies of digital labor to examine discursive contestation. Extending feminist counterpublic theories, we examine the online discourse about Care.com, a domestic work platform, finding significant platform control over public discourse. However, despite their formal separation on the platform, workers and clients use “networked gossip” to construct what we call a “platform counterpublic.” By bringing together scholarship on counterpublics and critical literature on labor platforms, this article offers a relational approach to resistance in platform labor.