Call for Papers! International Workshop on Digital Economy, Labour Market Regulation and Social Policy in Post-Crisis Europe › view all


November 8-9, 2018 | Università degli Studi di Milano, Italy

BIGSSS invites papers for a two-day workshop on Digital economy, labour market regulation and social policy in post-crisis Europe at the University of Milan, November 8-9, 2018.

The workshop is jointly organized by the University of Bremen/Bremen International Graduate School of Social Sciences (BIGSSS) and the University of Milan/Network for the Advancement of Social and Political Studies (NASP).

Organized with the financial support of the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD), the workshop aims at fostering a German-Italian dialogue on the topic of platform capitalism and digital labour markets with a specific focus on new professions, high-skilled self-employed, project-based work and intermediated work in the service sector. The workshop is an opportunity especially for younger researchers to present their research projects and receive support from more experienced researchers. Moreover, it aims at increasing public awareness
about the new challenges that the development of digital economy implies.



As of today, empirical research somewhat lags behind the public attention devoted to these issues. Open questions on the extent, nature, regulation as well as on the employment and social impact of these phenomena call for research and discussion from both an academic and socio-political perspective. The ongoing debate on the effects of the digital economy on work and life, political economies and social structure attracts attention from a broad range of disciplines, such as political sciences, sociology, economy, management studies and labour law and thus allows for mutual benefit from a variety of approaches and contributions. Germany and Italy provide interesting contrasting cases as both countries have seen a rise in self-employment in the new (and old) economy over the last decades, but differ in labour market regulations and the impact of the economic crisis. Looking at platform capitalism and digital labour markets from a comparative perspective will make institutional differences visible that shape the different forms of employment that are emerging with the progressive
digitalisation of the economies. Although, comparative perspectives have a long tradition in labour studies, most of the current research on the topic fails to do so.


Workshop Program

The program of the workshop therefore adopts an interdisciplinary and comparative approach and involves both senior and young researchers (doctoral students and post-doc fellows) from Germany and Italy, aiming at knowledge exchange, networking and developing common research projects. The workshop focuses especially on Germany and Italy, but it encourages also comparative work covering other countries relevant for developing its theoretical and empirical scopes.

The workshop is organized in four panel sessions, each focusing on a specific thematic area, and includes keynotes by two distinguished speakers, and a roundtable involving German and Italian practitioners that is open to the public.

The four panel sessions, each coordinated by two senior academics from BIGSSS and NASP that will discuss three papers, are:

Panel session 1: Employment relations and human resources management

This panel welcomes papers dealing with both actual and potential transformations of employment relations and HR management practices facilitated by the availability of digital technologies, in particular online platforms. Empirical papers on concrete examples of employment restructuring in the face of digitalisation are of special interest here, in particular restructuring of work at the firm level, including new forms of outsourcing using online platforms (crowd working, gig economy).

Panel session 2: The labour law’s dilemmas

This panel welcomes papers addressing the following topics: the revision of legal regulation of employment contracts, the enl
argement of basic employment rights, and the ad hoc legal status for self-employed professionals.

Panel session 3: Labour market inequalities and social policies

This panel welcomes papers addressing the following topics: inequalities between self-employed and employees in working conditions, wages, careers, training; social protection schemes; nonstandard employment relations and alternative contractual arrangements. Papers may focus on specific occupations and professions.

Panel session 4: Collective representation and new social dialogue

This panel welcomes papers addressing the following topics: the rise of new forms of collective representation, such as “quasi unions”, Labour Market Intermediaries (LMIs), cooperatives, and other bottom-up associations; the Union strategies for nonstandard employment, and the dialogue between traditional and innovative industrial relation infrastructures; the role of collective actors; unconventional practices and servicing (coalition building, lobbying and advocacy).

Dowload the provisional program of the workshop.


Application Requirements

Applications should include:
a) An abstract of the paper that will be presented (up to 500 words);
b) A short summary of PhD thesis project or current research (up to 3 pages);
c) A CV including information on their educational and work history, publications (if available), language competencies and extracurricular interests.

Applications should be submitted online only.

The deadline for application is August 31, 2018.



Accommodation and travel costs can be reimbursed up to a maximum of 430 Euro.


More Info

For any request of information, please contact Ilaria Porta at

Download call for papers.