Workers of the Internet Unite? Online Freelancer Organisation Among Remote Gig Economy Workers in Six Asian and African Countries
Wood A.J, Lehdonvirta V and Graham M (2018) Workers of the Internet unite? Online freelancer organisation among remote gig economy workers in six Asian and African countries. New Technology, Work and Employment 33(2):95-112.
33 Pages Posted: 31 Jul 2018
Date Written: July 11, 2018
This article presents findings regarding collective organisation among online freelancers in middle-income countries. Drawing on research in Southeast Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa, we find that the specific nature of the online freelancing labour process gives rise to a distinctive form of organisation, in which social media groups play a central role in structuring communication and unions are absent. Previous research is limited to either conventional freelancers or ‘microworkers’ who do relatively low-skilled tasks via online labour platforms. This study uses 107 interviews and a survey of 658 freelancers who obtain work via a variety of online platforms to highlight that Internet-based communities play a vital role in their work experiences. Internet-based communities enable workers to support each other and share information. This, in turn, increases their security and protection. However, these communities are fragmented by nationality, occupation and platform.
Keywords: freelance, gig economy, collective action, collective organisation, union, Southeast Asia, Sub-Saharan Africa, digital labour
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