In this paper, we analyze the recessionary effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on digital platform workers. The crisis has been described as a great work-from-home experiment, with platform ecosystems positing as its most advanced form. Our analysis differentiates the direct (health) and indirect (economic) risks incurred by workers, to critically assess the portrayal of platforms as buffers against crisis-induced layoffs. We submit that platform-mediated labor may eventually increase precarity, without necessarily reducing health risks for workers. Our argument is based on a comparison of the three main categories of platform work—“on-demand labor” (gigs such as delivery and transportation), “online labor” (tasks performed remotely, such as data annotation), and “social networking labor” (content generation and moderation). We discuss the strategies that platforms deploy to transfer risk from clients onto workers, thus deepening existing power imbalances between them. These results question the problematic equivalence between work-from-home and platform labor. Instead of attaining the advantages of the former in terms of direct and indirect risk mitigation, an increasing number of platformized jobs drift toward high economic and insuppressible health risks.
This article explores the writing and reading requirements of the literacy practices, events, and texts characteristic of work mediated by the online labor platforms of the gig economy, such as Airtasker and Freelancer, which bring together people needing a job done with those willing to do it. These emerging platform-based discourse communities and their associated literacies are a new domain of social activity. Based on an examination of seven gig economy platforms, the present article examines the core literacy event in the gig economy, the posting and bidding for tasks, together with the texts that enhance and support this process. While some tasks require written texts as the outcome or product, all tasks involve the creation of some form of written text as part of doing the work. These texts are both interactional and interpersonal. As well as being a part of negotiating and then getting a task done, they relate to the complexities of building the identities, knowledge, and relationships required of those working in a virtual work space rather than a traditional workplace. While most of these texts reflect familiar text types, the core text cycle is argued to be an “emergent” genre. Implications for education are presented.
A breadth of literature has examined how gig workers use online forums. The past literature focuses primarily on how gig workers for mainstream corporate platforms leverage forums. Yet, marginalization, stigma, censorship, and criminalization all shape how people, including gig workers, use digital technology. In this work, we seek to take a first step toward understanding how marginalized, stigmatized, digitally censored, and in some cases criminalized gig workers leverage the affordances of online public forums to build community and increase their welfare. To do so, we conduct a qualitative analysis of 4,000 posts and 25,851 comments shared over four months in a large online public forum used by sex workers for peer support. Sex workers sit at the intersection of multiple marginalized communities, and thus offer a lens into the broader use of forums by marginalized labor communities. Our findings offer insight into how these workers use moderation to preserve their safety and community. Further, we highlight similarities and differences between how this community utilizes the forum platform and prior scholarship on the use of online forums by gig workers.
The purpose of this paper is to compare online labor platforms (OLPs) such as Upwork, Fiverr, YoungOnes and Temper with traditional temp agencies. At a first glance, OLPs and temp agencies strongly resemble each other while they aim to meet the need for short-term labor of organizations. The authors ask the question how these labor market intermediaries differ on issues such as information technology usage, ways how labor supply and demand are matched and working conditions (e.g. status, pay and social security of workers).
Next to a review of the academic literature, the authors conducted interviews with representatives of six OLPs and temp agencies in the Netherlands as well as a legal specialist in Dutch labor law.
The authors found that OLPs and temp agencies differ on several issues. First, although OLPs rely on online marketplaces for matching labor supply and demand, temp agencies generally rely on human matchmakers. Second, although OLPs enable workers and client organizations to initiate transactions themselves, temp agencies employ representatives that do the matching for workers and clients. Third, and as a result, OLPs afford client organizations to almost instantly hire workers on-demand, whereas the flexibility and speed that temp agencies can offer depend on availability and processing capacity of human matchmakers.
According to the authors’ knowledge, this paper is the first to compare OLPs and temp agencies and, in doing so, offers academics and practitioners an analytical framework to compare different types of labor market intermediaries.
While the gig economy has expanded rapidly in the last decade, few have studied the psychological ramifications of working for an online labor platform. Guided by classical and modern theories of work and alienation, we investigate whether engagement in platform work is associated with an increased sense of powerlessness and isolation. We analyze data from two national surveys of workers from the Canadian Quality of Work and Economic Life Study in September 2019 ( N = 2,460) and March 2020 ( N = 2,469). Analyses reveal greater levels of powerlessness and loneliness among platform workers—a pattern that is not fully explained by their higher levels of financial strain. Additional analyses of platform activity reveal that rideshare driving is more strongly associated with powerlessness and isolation than engagement in online crowdwork. We interpret our findings in light of platform firms’ use of algorithmic control and distancing strategies that may undermine worker autonomy and social connection.
Crowdsourcing in simple words is the outsourcing of a task to an online market to be performed by a diverse group of crowds in order to utilize human intelligence. Due to online labor markets and performing parallel tasks, the crowdsourcing activity is time- and cost-efficient. During crowdsourcing activity, selecting the proper labeled tasks and assigning them to an appropriate worker are a challenge for everyone. A mechanism has been proposed in the current study for assigning the task to the workers. The proposed mechanism is a multicriteria-based task assignment (MBTA) mechanism for assigning the task to the most suitable worker. This mechanism uses approaches for weighting the criteria and ranking the workers. These MCDM methods are Criteria Importance Through Intercriteria Correlation (CRITIC) and Technique for Order Preference by Similarity to Ideal Solution (TOPSIS). Criteria have been made for the workers based on the identified features in the literature. Weight has been assigned to these selected features/criteria with the help of the CRITIC method. The TOPSIS method has been used for the evaluation of workers, with the help of which the ranking of workers is performed in order to get the most suitable worker for the selected tasks to be performed. The proposed work is novel in several ways; for example, the existing methods are mostly based on single criterion or some specific criteria, while this work is based on multiple criteria including all the important features. Furthermore, it is also identified from the literature that none of the authors used MCDM methods for task assignment in crowdsourcing before this research.
Nordic working life studies have mostly focused on the precarious aspects of work mediated via online labor platforms. We follow a different approach and examine the potential of such work to benefit professionals by enhancing their job quality and learning. This qualitative, practice-based study applies the concept ‘co-creation’ to examine how a social form of creating value takes place in Upwork macrotask projects. It then investigates how platform features shape opportunities for co-creation. The data comprise interviews of 15 freelancers residing in Finland. The findings suggest that co-creation is possible in macrotask projects, but the platform does not seem to actively support co-creation. This paper provides insights into the discussion of job quality at platform work and how co-creation on platforms might be developed to support the Nordic labor market model.