New technologies as the “new economy” process represent hardware and software’s introduction into the workflow. Their distribution significantly changes jobs, relations between employees, organizations, and consumers. As a result, the requirements for employees, their knowledge, and skills also vary. There are several views on how exactly new technologies change the world – whether they significantly increase productivity or not, help a person develop in the workplace, eliminate inequality, or worsen the situation. However, Clement et al. (2014) prove that one side’s research is not exhaustive enough. The effectiveness of technology in the workplace also depends on other aspects of the organization’s work – like employee autonomy and other factors. New technologies, along with several different processes, change the essence of labor, increase requirements for employees, making jobs unstable and divided unequally, and as a result, contribute to the “new economy”.
The “new economy” can be understood through its four main processes – post-industrialism, knowledge economics, precarious employment, and new technologies. These factors, particularly the latter dimension, determine how people will work, what conditions, and the composition of labor market. Everything is changing, and it is a reason why the economy is “new.” By analyzing new technologies, an essential aspect of the “new economy” becomes apparent – the level of qualifications determines wages and contributes to inequality. Nevertheless, not only the skills and quality of technology but also the peculiarities of the organization affect how both technology and employee knowledge will be applied, how they will be motivated.
The introduction of new technologies promotes flexibility, which scientists controversially perceive – some consider constant changes and instability disempowering, others, on the contrary, providing opportunities. Technologies made it possible to adjust any organization’s activities precisely to the needs of their consumers. This event has changed demand in terms of jobs – not permanent, but temporary workers have become strategically important (Arabandi 2011). As a result, the worker-manager relationship has changed – without feeling job security, employees want to succeed, and managers do not need to use complex management methods. One of the most significant changes is that competition and workflows’ speed now require employees to have multiple skills – to be able to work on various projects and in different roles. Technology makes it possible to work with different time zones, creating irregular working hours; moreover, an employee should also be available even at home. In general, such instability leads to severe stress among workers; for example, they accuse themselves of failures in finding work.
Technology contributes not only to skill inequality but also to the further development of gender division. Traditionally, technology use, study, and development are considered male occupations, which affects the perception of a particular employee’s roles. Initially, they gave hope for flexibility and new working conditions for women, but the modern distribution is still gender-biased. According to Milkman’s (2020) study, the use of technology is woven into society as a whole, and it is still subject to a gender division of labor. The research also notes that the gender division is more characteristic of the working class, contributing to the further aggravation of inequality in one more area.
Thus, one of the processes contributing to the “new economy” is new technologies. They change how working relationships and processes are built. As a result of the changes, temporary workers are more in demand among employers, contributing to job insecurity. Moreover, new features of work require multiple skills, creating prerequisites for inequality. Another type of labor division – gender is developing as it is still people determine more the nature of labor and how to use technology. Most of all, the working class is exposed to gender inequality, which also creates a gap.
Arabandi, Bhavani. 2011. “Globalization, Flexibility and New Workplace Culture in the United States and India.” Sociology Compass 5(7):525-39.
Clement, Wallace, Sophie Mathieu, Steven Prus and Emre Uckardesler. 2014. “Restructuring Work and Labour Markets in the New Economy: Four Processes.” Pp. 43-64 in Interrogating the New Economy: Restructuring Work in the 21st Century, edited by N. J. Pupo. Toronto: University of Toronto Press.
Milkman, Ruth. 2020. “Old Wine in New Bottles: Gender and the Gig Economy.” Work In Progress.