Platforms at Work: Automated Hiring Platforms and Other New Intermediaries in the Organization of the Workplace

Artificial Intelligence and Privacy and Security

Article Snapshot


Ifeoma Ajunwa and Daniel Greene


Work and Labor in the Digital Age: Research in the Sociology of Work, Emerald Publishing Ltd., pp. 61-91, 2019


Many large companies require job applicants to apply through automated hiring platforms (AHPs). AHPs allow managers to standardize management practices and treat workers as more fungible.

Policy Relevance

Sociologists should study the effects of AHPs on hiring, scheduling, and customer relations.

Main Points

  • The sociology of work involves the study of large-scale structural changes in labor markets and corporate organization with workers' experiences.
  • Increasingly, job applicants to large firms must apply through Automated Hiring Platforms (AHPs), which automatically analyze the workers' work history, personality, and skills.
  • This analysis of 135 texts about AHPs considers what the platforms promised to accomplish, and what the platforms actually accomplish.
    • “Critical discourse analysis” reveals the purpose of AHPs.
    • “Affordance critique” shows how platform design affects what AHPs allow vendors, job seekers, and employers to do.
  • AHP designers claim that AHPs prevent losses from theft, reduce bias in hiring, reduce time spent in hiring, and increase retention rates; one important function is to automate the rejection of about 20 percent of candidates.
  • AHPs allow managers to treat workers more like fungible human capital, available on demand and ported between tasks and organizations.
    • Data collected by AHPs is easily stored and communicated within organizations;
    • Managers have more access to data and analysis than workers;
    • Management techniques are standardized between workplaces.
  • Because job seekers have no choice but to engage with AHPs if they want to work, AHPs are more coercive than social media platforms.
  • Sociological researchers should continue to study hirers’ interactions AHPs and the problem of bias, how applicants can cheat AHPs, or how staff view technologies like SalesForce, which collects data about interactions of staff with customers.

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