Claartje ter Hoeven from Erasmus University Rotterdam has received a European Research Council (ERC) Consolidator Grant of 2 million euro for her research into the well-being of ghost workers (GHOSTWORK). Erasmus School of Social and Behavioural Sciences (ESSB) has been successful in obtaining ERC grants last years, and this is the second one this year
The GHOSTWORK project studies the well-being of ghost workers in Europe. Ghost workers are mostly invisible workers who carry out online tasks such as cleaning data or classifying images. The functioning of artificial intelligence depends on this type of human work. This on-demand work is offered and performed online, paid by the task, on platforms like Amazon Mechanical Turk.
This rapidly growing, platform-based work is largely unseen: workers are unable to speak with managers, do not get feedback, and lack labour protections. How do these specific work conditions influence ghost workers’ well-being? To ensure decent work conditions as automation continues to expand, knowledge about the effects of ghost work on well-being is urgently needed.
The ghostworker’s well-being
The project will develop and test an integrative framework for analysing the effects of ghost work on worker’s well-being. Existing models for analysing the impact of work conditions on well-being fall short for studying ghost work, as these models assume a person has a job and most likely an employer and colleagues. Therefore, this project begins from the specificities of ghost work to synthesize theories and concepts about algorithmic control, occupational well-being, human computation, and platform labour, in order to understand how and through which mechanisms ghost work influences well-being.
Professor Victor Bekkers, Dean ESSB stated: “I’m very proud of Claartje, and that she has been able to achieve this in the short time that she has been professor with us. It’s not only fantastic for her, but also for ESSB. The grant is a clear indication that the strategic investments we have made as ESSB to work with faculty wide pillars and to appoint talented young professors such as Claartje, are bearing fruit.”
About the ERC Consolidator Grants
The ERC Consolidator Grant is intended for researchers who obtained their PhD 7 to 12 years ago. Researchers can use this European grant to establish themselves as independent research leader.
ESSB is very successful in obtaining ERC grants. Professor Claartje ter Hoeven is the second this year and the first to obtain a Consolidator Grant. This year Dr Rianne Kok was the first pedagogical scientist to receive the Starting Grant. In recent years sociologists Professor Renske Keizer, Professor Willem Schinkel and Professor Maurice Crul all received Starting Grants. Professor Pearl Dykstra received an Advanced Grant.
About Claartje ter Hoeven
Professor Claartje ter Hoeven is the scientific director and coordinator of the interdisciplinary research and master programme ‘Organisational Dynamics in the Digital Society’, connected to the ESSB strategy Meeting the Future Society. Her scholarly interests encompass organisational communication, digital technologies, occupational psychology, and employee well-being. Her current research and teaching focuses on how digital technologies reconfigure work for different people in different occupations.