The Ethical Debate about the Gig Economy: A Review and Critical Analysis

29 Pages Posted: 22 Sep 2020

See all articles by Zhi Ming Tan

Zhi Ming Tan

University of Oxford - Oxford Internet Institute

Nikita Aggarwal

University of Oxford - Oxford Internet Institute; University of Oxford, Faculty of Law; European Corporate Governance Institute (ECGI)

Josh Cowls

University of Oxford - Oxford Internet Institute

Jessica Morley

Oxford Internet Institute

Mariarosaria Taddeo

University of Oxford - Oxford Internet Institute

Luciano Floridi

University of Oxford - Oxford Internet Institute

Date Written: August 7, 2020

Abstract

The gig economy is a phenomenon that is rapidly expanding, redefining the nature of work and contributing to a significant change in how contemporary economies are organised. Its expansion is not unproblematic. This article provides a clear and systematic analysis of the main ethical challenges caused by the gig economy. Following a brief overview of the gig economy, its scope and scale, we map the key ethical problems that it gives rise to, as they are discussed in the relevant literature. We map them onto three categories: the new organisation of work (what is done), the new nature of work (how it is done), and the new status of workers (who does it). We then evaluate a recent initiative from the EU that seeks to address the challenges of the gig economy. The 2019 report of the European High-Level Expert Group on the Impact of the Digital Transformation on EU Labour Markets is a positive step in the right direction. However, we argue that ethical concerns relating to algorithmic systems as mechanisms of control, and the discrimination, exclusion and disconnectedness faced by gig workers require further deliberation and policy response. A brief conclusion completes the analysis. The appendix presents the methodology underpinning our literature review.

Keywords: Algorithms; Digital Ethics; Digital Platforms; Digital Technologies; Gig Economy; Labour Market; Labour Rights

Suggested Citation

Tan, Zhi Ming and Aggarwal, Nikita and Cowls, Josh and Morley, Jessica and Taddeo, Mariarosaria and Floridi, Luciano, The Ethical Debate about the Gig Economy: A Review and Critical Analysis (August 7, 2020). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3669216 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3669216

Zhi Ming Tan

University of Oxford - Oxford Internet Institute ( email )

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

Nikita Aggarwal

University of Oxford - Oxford Internet Institute ( email )

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

University of Oxford, Faculty of Law ( email )

St Cross Building
St Cross Rd
Oxford
United Kingdom

European Corporate Governance Institute (ECGI) ( email )

c/o the Royal Academies of Belgium
Rue Ducale 1 Hertogsstraat
1000 Brussels
Belgium

Josh Cowls

University of Oxford - Oxford Internet Institute ( email )

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

Jessica Morley

Oxford Internet Institute ( email )

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

Mariarosaria Taddeo

University of Oxford - Oxford Internet Institute ( email )

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

Luciano Floridi (Contact Author)

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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