Platform Labor

Digital platforms like Uber, Airbnb, and Deliveroo are transforming how people work, create and share value, and sustain themselves in their everyday lives.

As such, platforms are increasingly important in their role as institutional actors that redraw relations between civil society, the market, and the state. Yet when we consider that these relations have historically been shaped by pervasive gender, class, and racial inequalities, it becomes crucial to ask to what extent platforms – as new sites of capital accumulation, governance, and norm-making – reproduce existing inequalities and if/how they also generate new vulnerabilities or tools for empowerment. Accordingly, the Platform Labor research project aims to determine how digital platforms are changing the gendered, classed, and racialized organization of labor, life, and livelihood in societies marked by eroding welfare systems. The project will focus on three specific research topics:

  • The organization and experience of low-income service work in the “on-demand economy”
  • The creation/distribution of value and the maintenance of daily life in the “sharing economy”
  • The policy and legal issues that arise when people’s labor and livelihood are being rearranged by digital platforms.

These topics will be researched through a cross-national comparative study that examines how platforms operate in three increasingly popular tech hubs: Amsterdam, Berlin, and New York City. The study consists of four subprojects, which will each investigate one of the research topics within the context of these three cities.

The Platform Labor research project is funded with a Starting Grant awarded by the European Research Council.


Research team