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Faculty Spring 2020: Michelle Rodino-Colocino

Making Media Work: A Cultural History of New Media and Labor Management in the US, 1910-2020

Associate Professor of Film/Video, Media Studies, Bellisario College of Communications and the Department of Women's, Gender & Sexuality Studies

Making Media Work: A Cultural History of New Media and Labor Management in the US, 1910-2020

Making Media Work: A Cultural History of New Media and Labor Management in the US, 1910-2020, the book that the HI Fellowship will afford time to write, explores how new media have figured in demanding more work out of American workers for less in return. This is an untold but important story. Promising innovation and objectivity, new media have figured as forces and justifications for extracting more time and energy from workers. From early film technology’s use in “scientific management” of the early twentieth century to today’s smartphone applications for managing “gig” and “just-in-time” workers, new media have justified and mediated long, intense work hours to boost productivity. Drawing on Marx’s theories of labor exploitation and texts from libraries and archives at Cornell, Purdue, and Wayne State Universities, the Smithsonian, as well as interviews with workers and labor activists, Making Media Work argues that early film technologies promised to make workers “efficient,” whereas today’s digital media additionally promise to make workers “available.” As a feminist media scholar, I attend to systems of oppression and struggles for liberation that have informed new media’s use in labor management including white supremacy, patriarchy, and labor movements. Making Media Work is interdisciplinary, contributing to media studies, labor studies, and history.