Good Gig, Bad Gig: Autonomy and Algorithmic Control in the Global Gig Economy

Wood AJ, Graham M, Lehdonvirta V, Hjorth I (2018) Good gig, bad gig: autonomy and algorithmic control in the global gig economy. Work, Employment and Society 0(0): 1-20.

33 Pages Posted: 16 Aug 2018

See all articles by Alex Wood

Alex Wood

Oxford Internet Institute; University of Oxford

Mark Graham

University of Oxford - Oxford Internet Institute

Vili Lehdonvirta

University of Oxford - Oxford Internet Institute

Isis Hjorth

University of Oxford - Oxford Internet Institute

Date Written: August 3, 2018

Abstract

This article evaluates the job quality of work in the remote gig economy. Such work consists of the remote provision of a wide variety of digital services mediated by online labour platforms. Focusing on workers in Southeast Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa, the article draws on semi-structured interviews in six countries (N=107) and a cross-regional survey (N=679) to detail the manner in which remote gig work is shaped by platform-based algorithmic control. Despite varying country contexts and types of work, we show that algorithmic control is central to the operation of online labour platforms. Algorithmic management techniques tend to offer workers high levels of flexibility, autonomy, task variety, and complexity. However, these mechanisms of control can also result in low pay, social isolation, working unsocial and irregular hours, overwork, sleep deprivation and exhaustion.

Suggested Citation

Wood, Alex and Graham, Mark and Lehdonvirta, Vili and Hjorth, Isis, Good Gig, Bad Gig: Autonomy and Algorithmic Control in the Global Gig Economy (August 3, 2018). Wood AJ, Graham M, Lehdonvirta V, Hjorth I (2018) Good gig, bad gig: autonomy and algorithmic control in the global gig economy. Work, Employment and Society 0(0): 1-20.. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3225759

Alex Wood (Contact Author)

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

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

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

Isis Hjorth

University of Oxford - Oxford Internet Institute ( email )

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

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