Inequalities in the fourth Industrial Revolution. Work and Care in the Digital Age

Guest editors: Paula Rodríguez Modroño (Pablo de Olavide University) and Tindara Addabbo (University of Modena & Reggio Emilia)

Proposed date for publication in the REC: June 2021

In the last decades, we are witnessing continuous innovations in disruptive technological applications in the fields of artificial intelligence, robotics or nanotechnology, the result of which is the radical transformation of many industries: robotization, the Internet of things (IoT), digital platforms, smart devices, etc. This last phase of radical innovations, known as the fourth industrial revolution or Industry 4.0, changes completely how we work and live. The fourth industrial revolution transforms the future of employment and care, since it alters the tasks and occupations demanded, physical, psychological and environmental requirements, contractual and social conditions of work and labour relations.

These new technologies are transforming industries and business models, changing the skills that employers need, and the composition of professional families. The disappearance of routine jobs will lead to a polarization in the labour market and increased wage inequality. Likewise, digitalization transforms the organization of work in terms of forms, times, spaces and labour relations with mixed effects on living and working conditions and work life balance for the workers involved. On the one hand, the gig economy offers greater flexibility regarding workspaces and work schedules. On the other hand, working conditions of digital workers are usually more precarious, their work is usually more intense and more demanding in terms of working hours.
Innovations in automation and digitization can also facilitate the provision of care, both informal and formal. For instance, there is a growing number of self-employed workers in the care sector on digital platforms. But the greater flexibility offered by these platforms also presents challenges in terms of wages, working conditions and the quality of the services provided.

This issue focuses aims to analyze some of the impacts of this fourth industrial revolution on work, care and living and working conditions, with special emphasis on increasing inequalities across regions and groups of population. To present a global view of this, Revista de Economía Crítica (REC) organizes a special issue with the title:

“Inequalities in the fourth Industrial Revolution. Work and Care in the Digital Age"

We welcome submissions on the following topics:

  • How the new technologies (automation, robotization, digital transformation) transform the nature of work and/or care and working and living conditions?
  • How these innovations transform the provision of care in terms on quantity, quality or allocation? How persisting inequalities are perpetuated through the process of digitalization, and how emerging forms of employment reinforce gender roles in social reproduction in new ways?
  • Do the new technologies (robotization, digital transformation) lead to labour disruption including rising wealth inequalities, low social mobility and increasing regional disparities within and between countries and with reference to different groups of the population?
  • To what extent are public policies echoing these changes? What policies would alleviate the generation of new asymmetries in the labour market and / or the care economy?

Requirements for submission:

  • Text in English or Spanish.
  • Abstract: 200 words maximum.
  • Full text: max 8,000 words.


For more information: REC website www.revistaeconomiacritica.org.