Inequality and limits


  • Bonnie Nardi



Many indicators demonstrate growing economic inequality. Figure 1 depicts increasing economic disparity between social classes. Despite increased productivity, waged workers are losing ground because owners of capital are accumulating the wealth generated by increased productivity (Figure 2). Since wealth accumulation is the goal of capitalism, this is not surprising. Many forms of digitally mediated labor are not even waged any more, though they generate economic value. Digitally mediated labor includes casual labor managed in short-term contracts in systems such as Mechanical Turk, the uncompensated labor of self-service, and uncompensated “affective” labor. Because technology supports a global labor force, traditional mechanisms of ensuring fairness, such as labor unions, are not always operative. This paper considers the problem of the distribution of wealth, and suggests sociotechnical mechanisms for a world with fewer traditional jobs.

Author Biography

Bonnie Nardi

Professor in the Department of Informatics in the Donald Bren School of Information and Computer Sciences at the University of California, Irvine




How to Cite

Nardi, B. (2015). Inequality and limits. First Monday, 20(8).