Scholarship Recipient

Meet Lauren Kelly, ADM+S Scholarship Recipient

Author(s) Sally Storey and Loren Dela Cruz
Date 22 September 2021

After completing a Master of International Relations at the University of Melbourne, Lauren Kelly had always been interested in pursuing her PhD but was waiting for the right opportunity. When she came across the ADM+S Centre’s Scholarship, she knew it would be a great fit for her research interests in labour, technology, and the future of work.

“Receiving an ADM+S PhD scholarship means a lot to me. I’ve already learned so much from this community of incredible scholars. It feels good to be contributing the broader goals of the Centre and I really hope to give back as much as I can, ” says Lauren.

Growing up, the topic of work was a big one in Lauren’s family and early on she became aware that unfair or exploitative working conditions can affect a whole family. Having worked a lot of difficult jobs herself, Lauren’s interest in work and labour conditions deepened.

“In my early 20s I was unironically fired from a call centre for reading Marx’s “Capital” in between calls (we weren’t allowed to read)! Now, reflecting on that is quite funny and I realise it was definitely a life changing moment for me. I got interested in unionism after that and things went from there,” says Lauren who has now worked in the Australian union movement for five years.

Lauren’s research at the ADM+S Centre is interdisciplinary, spanning digital media, labour studies and science and technology studies. She is investigating automated decision-making systems in Australia’s supermarket warehouses, and considers what technological change means for workers. Her research suggests a reimagining of the Australian supermarket is currently underway, speeding up the trend towards on-demand and precarious labour. Lauren has recently published an article ‘Coles and Woolworths are moving to robot warehouses and on-demand labour as home deliveries soar’ in The Conversation and was interviewed by ABC Radio’s James Valentine.

When considering her future hopes and career aspirations, Lauren seeks to influence public narratives surrounding automation and the future of work in Australia and hopes to publish her PhD research as a book.

Follow Lauren Kelly on Twitter @laurenkatekelly.