GVU Center Brown Bag Seminar: Lynn Dombrowski "Desigining Within Capitalism: What Are Key Challenges in Building Just Futures of Work?"
Desigining Within Capitalism: What Are Key Challenges in Building Just Futures of Work?
Capitalism is when private entities control the means of production. It has been critiqued as causing vast social and economic inequality. Where might designers be able to intervene within the pervasive social and economic problems created by capitalism? My research examines wage theft, which is when a worker is legally denied benefits or wages by their employer or manager. Wage theft is a pervasive and massive problem for low-wage workers in capitalist systems. In this talk, I discuss empirical results from interviews with low-wage workers, employers, pro-worker advocates, and computing technologists. I highlight key challenges that inhibit just futures of work within capitalism, including material and institutional constraints, overt politics, and compromised resistance tactics. Specifically, I describe the data, design, and technology-oriented activist practices of pro-worker advocates and the compromises and constraints they encounter when working with and advocating on behalf of low-wage workers. These practices can inform the design strategies and outcomes of computing technologists designing socio-technical tools to address wage theft. Lastly, I conclude with insights for research and practice.