The emergence of algorithmic solidarity: unveiling mutual aid practices and resistance among Chinese delivery workers

Paper by Zizheng Yu, Emiliano Treré, and Tiziano Bonini: “This study explores how Chinese riders game the algorithm-mediated governing system of food delivery service platforms and how they mobilize WeChat to build solidarity networks to assist each other and better cope with the platform economy. We rely on 12 interviews with Chinese riders from 4 platforms (Meituan, Eleme, SF Express and Flash EX) in 5 cities, and draw on a 4-month online observation of 7 private WeChat groups. The article provides a detailed account of the gamification ranking and competition techniques employed by delivery platforms to drive the riders to achieve efficiency and productivity gains. Then, it critically explores how Chinese riders adapt and react to the algorithmic systems that govern their work by setting up private WeChat groups and developing everyday practices of resilience and resistance. This study demonstrates that Chinese riders working for food delivery platforms incessantly create a complex repertoire of tactics and develop hidden transcripts to resist the algorithmic control of digital platforms….(More)”.