Who cares? Platform work and Low-income home service work in the digital economy

  • Briken, Kendra (Co-investigator)
  • Houij Gueddana, Wifak (Principal Investigator)
  • Hall, Miranda (CoI)
  • Stewart, James (Academic)

Project: Research

Description

Despite the rapid platform takeover of reproductive work, i.e. child and elderly care, domestic work and sex work, there has been little research to date on the way in which the vulnerabilities and opportunities of platform work are shaped by gender, race and class. Public debates on the ‘gig economy’ have overwhelmingly focused on unicorn startups such as Uber and Deliveroo which have a predominantly male workforce. Yet, in the UK, women make up over half of gig workers (52% Huws et al 2017) and their experiences have been overlooked. This gap critically limits the ability of policy-makers and trade unions or campaigning organisations to understand the economic, social and working conditions of those using platforms and apps to work in the context of broader labour market issues.
There is need for a deeper understanding of how these technologies come to reproduce the rigid gendered and unequal labour markets where the hidden work of migrant and BAME women in low-income home service sectors remains invisible, undervalued, underpaid and under-protected. There is potential for the exploitative dynamics of these sectors to be amplified as, for example, online profiles and rating systems generate new forms of abuse and discrimination (Mateescu and Ticona 2018) or platform mediation enables wage theft and the further erosion of protections (Van Doorn, 2017).
This project brings together a cross-disciplinary research collaboration to provide first empirical insights using an innovative methodological toolbox of alternative forum data and interviews to explore parts of a vulnerable labour force so far hidden in the media hype on the gig economy. Through workshops and policy roundtables we will share our findings and identify key challenges with relevant stakeholders to fuel future grassroots campaigns, inform policy and shape the design of new technologies.

Layman's description

An academic and civil society collaboration using workshops and alternative forum data to identify challenges and opportunities for migrant and BAME women and other vulnerable groups using platforms
StatusActive
Effective start/end date1/09/1930/04/20