Migration and Migrant Labour in the Gig Economy: An Intervention

Migration and Migrant Labour in the Gig Economy: An Intervention
Niels van Doorn
Fabian Ferrari
Mark Graham
2020-06-08
Working Paper

Go to Working Paper Open pdf

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.