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

Article Source: Work and Labor in the Digital Age: Research in the Sociology of Work, Emerald Publishing Ltd., pp. 61-91, 2019
Publication Date:
Time to Read: 2 minute read
Written By:

 Daniel Greene

Daniel Greene



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.


Key Takeaways:
  • 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.



 Ifeoma  Ajunwa

About Ifeoma Ajunwa

Ifeoma Ajunwa is the AI.Humanity Professor of Law and Ethics and the Founding Director of the AI and the Law Program at Emory Law. Starting January 2024, she will also be the Associate Dean for Projects and Partnerships. Additionally, Professor Ajunwa has been a Faculty Associate at the Berkman Klein Center at Harvard University since 2017. Her research interests are at the intersection of law and technology with a particular focus on the ethical governance of workplace technologies, and also on diversity and inclusion in the labor market and the workplace.