Migration and Migrant Labour in the Gig Economy: An Intervention

15 Pages Posted: 1 Jul 2020

See all articles by Niels van Doorn

Niels van Doorn

University of Amsterdam - Department of Media Studies

Fabian Ferrari

University of Oxford - Oxford Internet Institute

Mark Graham

University of Oxford - Oxford Internet Institute

Date Written: June 8, 2020

Abstract

In urban gig economies around the world, platform labour is predominantly migrant labour. Yet the academic literature on the intersection of the gig economy and labour migration remains scant. Our experience with two action research projects, spanning six cities on four continents, has taught us how platform work impacts the structural vulnerability of migrant workers. This leads us to two claims that should recalibrate the gig economy research agenda. First, we argue that platform labour simultaneously degrades working conditions while offering migrants much-needed opportunities to improve their livelihoods. Second, we contend that the reclassification of gig workers as employees is by itself not sufficient to counter the precarisation of migrant gig work. Instead, we need ambitious policies at the intersection of immigration, social welfare, and employment regulation that push back against the digitally mediated commodification of migrant labour worldwide.

Keywords: gig economy, migration, migrant labor, labor degradation, precarity, employment, social welfare, policy, regulation

Suggested Citation

van Doorn, Niels and Ferrari, Fabian and Graham, Mark, Migration and Migrant Labour in the Gig Economy: An Intervention (June 8, 2020). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3622589

Niels Van Doorn (Contact Author)

University of Amsterdam - Department of Media Studies ( email )

Netherlands

Fabian Ferrari

University of Oxford - Oxford Internet Institute ( email )

1 St Giles'
Oxford, Oxfordshire OX1 3JS
United Kingdom

Mark Graham

University of Oxford - Oxford Internet Institute ( email )

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

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