Technological Exit? The Hidden Emotional Labor on Crowdfunding Platforms in China
The rise of digital platforms has transformed many industries and sectors including the non-profit field. Researchers have increasingly paid attention to labor exploitation regarding work conditions and fair compensation on these platforms. However, the existing literature has not fully explored how the nature of work is mediated or transformed on platforms, missing the emotional experience of workers in the new digital settings. Using a longitudinal ethnographic study of two NGOs and interviews with their peer organizations participating in China’s largest charity event from 2015 to 2018, I found that online crowdfunding requires massive invisible labor performed by NGO workers, especially those from grassroots organizations lacking government and corporate support. Instead of accessing anonymous online crowds, NGO workers had to take extra steps to first mobilize their families, friends, and acquaintances under the constraint of time and social networks. The acquaintance-based fundraising demands NGO workers perform emotional labor, like presenting an authentic self online to win over support and dealing with rejection. Workers experienced burnout and subsequently quit their jobs, which undermined the already vulnerable grassroots organizations. the study shed light on the commodification of emotional labor and their organizations in the platform economy.
Wenjuan Zheng is a postdoctoral fellow with the Civic Life of Cities Lab at Stanford Center on Philanthropy and Civil Society. She holds a Ph.D. from the Department of Sociology, CUNY Graduate Center. She is broadly interested in organizations, technology, and social change.
Speaker(s) Dr Wenjuan ZHENG
Postdoctoral Fellow, Stanford University
Date 27 Jan 2021 (Wednesday)
Time 11:00 am
Venue Online Via Zoom(link will be sent via email)

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