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Research Methods for Digital Work and OrganizationInvestigating Distributed, Multi-Modal, and Mobile Work$
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Gillian Symon, Katrina Pritchard, and Christine Hine

Print publication date: 2021

Print ISBN-13: 9780198860679

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2021

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198860679.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2022. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use.date: 20 May 2022

Exploring Organization through Contributions

Exploring Organization through Contributions

Using Activity Theory for the Study of Contemporary Digital Labour Practices

(p.187) 10 Exploring Organization through Contributions
Research Methods for Digital Work and Organization

Rozas David

Huckle Steven

Oxford University Press

This chapter focuses on peer-production as a form of collaborative digital work, closely allied to crowdsourcing and other contemporary working practices that are mediated by digital platforms. Such platforms are a growing form of digital work; however, they raise complex methodological issues. First, although often a single collaborative platform coordinates groups, work can be distributed globally. Second, multimodal approaches require the researcher to transition between online and offline media. Finally, it can be challenging to identify what is ‘work’ as activity boundaries are blurred. It is argued that the use of Activity Theory overcomes some of these issues and its utility in an analysis of the production of the open source software, Drupal, is demonstrated, highlighting the potential for Activity Theory to enable cross-contextual comparisons and proposing the concept of ‘socio-technical systems of contribution’ as a way to understand interactions between networks of collaboration. The limitations of the approach and potential future developments are noted.

Keywords:   Activity Theory, Commons-Based Peer Production, Collaborative Economy, Digital Labour, Drupal, Free/Libre Open Source Software, Platform Economy

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