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Collective alternative logistics through digitalisation

What are the new challenges for collective organisations in the logistic sector?  On 25 November 2021, Raquel Alquézar Crusellas has visited the ERC group to exchange insights about her new research about collective organisations among delivery riders in Europe. 

Raquel Alquézar Crusellas is part of the interdisciplinary Ecombeddedness research group (Universidad Complutense de Madrid and Universidad Nacional de Educación a Distancia). She employs a Polanyian analysis to understand how riders embraced collective action to reappropriate the productive relations in which they work. One of her main research focus revolves around the possibility to build digital infrastructures to manage logistics without relying on opaque capitalist digital platforms. 

Part of her question rests on the moral issues around data property, as digital platforms produce income by dealing with users’ data they share using apps. The group Raquel studies in Barcelona struggles both with the need to create a digital infrastructure to ease their work in logistics, and with the issue of what to do with the surplus of information they eventually gather.  

This double effort has been the centre of the discussion with the ERC Food Citizens? PhD students. Ola Gracjasz, Maria Vasile and Vincent Walstra talked about their own experience among collective food procurement groups that relied on digital infrastructure for logistics. They compared the three experiences in Rotterdam, Gdansk and Turin, and added new nuances to the discussion. While some of the groups, like the GAS in Turin, have built their own logistics platform, the question surrounding data was not raised – as the platform did not cater to anonymous consumers but to members of the collective food procurement themselves. In other cases, like in Rotterdam and Gdansk, while food activists are well aware of the implications of data collection, they still use common digital platforms – including social networks – for communication about food orders. Either they don’t give importance to the data side of collective action, or the struggle to organise is already too encompassing to find alternative practices.

This meeting represented a fruitful occasion to revisit the researchers’ experience in the field, and set new directions for further research in the digital affordances for collective food procurement.  

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