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

See all articles by Alex Wood

Alex Wood

University of Birmingham; Oxford Internet Institute; University of Oxford

Vili Lehdonvirta

University of Oxford - Oxford Internet Institute

Mark Graham

University of Oxford - Oxford Internet Institute

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: July 11, 2018

Abstract

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

Suggested Citation

Wood, Alex and Lehdonvirta, Vili and Graham, Mark, Workers of the Internet Unite? Online Freelancer Organisation Among Remote Gig Economy Workers in Six Asian and African Countries (July 11, 2018). 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. , Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3211803

Alex Wood (Contact Author)

University of Birmingham ( email )

Edgbaston, Birmingham B15 2TT
United Kingdom
B15 2TY (Fax)

Oxford Internet Institute ( email )

1 St. Giles
University of Oxford
Oxford OX1 3PG Oxfordshire, Oxfordshire OX1 3JS
United Kingdom

University of Oxford

Mansfield Road
Oxford, Oxfordshire OX1 4AU
United Kingdom

Vili Lehdonvirta

University of Oxford - Oxford Internet Institute ( email )

1 St. Giles
University of Oxford
Oxford, Oxfordshire OX1 3JS
United Kingdom

HOME PAGE: http://www.oii.ox.ac.uk

Mark Graham

University of Oxford - Oxford Internet Institute ( email )

1 St. Giles
University of Oxford
Oxford, Oxfordshire OX1 3JS
United Kingdom

HOME PAGE: http://www.geospace.co.uk

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