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Capitalizing Relationships: Modes of Participation in Crowdsourcing


While crowds online are increasingly used for data gathering and problem solving, the relationships and structures within these processes remain largely unexamined. For understanding the usage of crowdsourcing and to design appropriate technologies and processes, it is important to understand how different tools support relationships in these contexts. Based on an extensive literature review of existing crowdsourcing tools and practices, we contribute with the development of a typology of alienation in crowdsourcing by using Marx’s theory of alienation. The theory serves as a lens to compare and contrast a number of currently available tools for crowdsourcing, focusing on how relationships between participants are supported and capitalized within the tool. We show how different types of crowdsourcing practices can be described in terms of alienation where the producer, the producers, the consumers, and products are connected in different modes of participation. This systematical application of Marx theory of alienation provides a way to compare the technical support for social relationships in a number of platforms used for crowdsourcing.