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Coming soon... The Gig Economy: A Critical Introduction


I’m very happy to announce the first sharable details about my new forthcoming book (co-authored with Jamie Woodcock). The book will be out in November, but you can already pre-order it with a 20% discount using this form or the code GIG20 on the Polity Books website.

The Gig Economy: A Critical Introduction 

Jamie Woodcock & Mark Graham 

From the reviews: 

‘Challenging and important, giving voice to workers on the front line of our growing gig economy. A must read for trade unionists, policymakers and everyone with an interest in making work better amidst rapid tech change’. 

Frances O’Grady, TUC 

About the book: 

All of a sudden, everybody’s talking about the gig economy. From taxi drivers to pizza deliverers to the unemployed, we are all aware of the huge changes that it’s driving in our lives as workers, consumers and citizens. Drawing upon years of research, stories from gig workers, and a review of the key trends and debates, Jamie Woodcock and Mark Graham shed light on how the gig economy came to be, how it works and what it’s like to work in it. They show that, although it has facilitated innovatory new services and created jobs for millions, it is not without cost. It allows businesses and governments to generate value while passing significant risk and responsibility onto the workers that make it possible. This is not, however, an argument for turning the clock back. Instead, the authors outline four strategies that can produce a fairer gig economy that works for everyone. 

PUBLICATION DETAILS: November 2019 | Paper| ISBN 978-1-5095-3636-8 | £14.99| £11.99 with 20% off 

New publication: Workers of the Internet unite?

I have a new co-authored article out, with two colleagues, based on our fieldwork with gig workers in Africa and Asia.

The piece is about collective organisation in the gig economy and argues that as the gig economy grows in importance so too will worker self-organisation.

Wood, A., Lehdonvirta, V., and Graham, M. 2018. Workers of the Internet unite? Online freelancer organisation among remote gig economy workers in six Asian and African countriesNew Technology, Work and Employment. 33(2). 95-112. 10.1111/ntwe.12112.

Thanks especially to Alex Wood for being such a good collaborator on this piece!

(if you don't have institutional access, here's the free downloadable version)

Abstract:
This article presents findings regarding collective organisation among online freelancers in middle‐income countries. Drawing on research in Southeast Asia and Sub‐Saharan Africa, we find that the specific nature of the online freelancing labour process gives rise to a distinctive form of organisation, in which social media groups play a central role in structuring communication and unions are absent. Previous research is limited to either conventional freelancers or ‘microworkers’ who do relatively low‐skilled tasks via online labour platforms. This study uses 107 interviews and a survey of 658 freelancers who obtain work via a variety of online platforms to highlight that Internet‐based communities play a vital role in their work experiences. Internet‐based communities enable workers to support each other and share information. This, in turn, increases their security and protection. However, these communities are fragmented by nationality, occupation and platform.

Related work:

Graham, M. and Anwar, M.A. 2018. Digital Labour In: Digital Geographies Ash, J., Kitchin, R. and Leszczynski, A. (eds.). Sage. London.

Graham, M. and Woodcock, J. 2018. Towards a Fairer Platform Economy: Introducing the Fairwork FoundationAlternate Routes. 29. 242-253.

Graham, M., Hjorth, I., Lehdonvirta, V. 2017. Digital labour and development: impacts of global digital labour platforms and the gig economy on worker livelihoodsTransfer: European Review of Labour and Research. 23 (2) 135-162.

Help us shape the Fairwork Foundation: request for feedback

In an earlier post, I described a new initiative that we recently started: The Fairwork Foundation. The goal of the Foundation is to certify key standards in the platform economy. By setting those standards, and certifying platforms against them, we hope to try to work against a race to the bottom in wages and working conditions. Workers avoid unfair contracts, and platforms and consumers will be able to avoid acting unethically.

To get this right, we'll need to make sure that we understand what fair work actually means in the gig economy. In other words, what are the standards we want to certify against?

Next month, we'll be hosting meetings at UNCTAD and the ILO in which we bring together platforms, trade unions, policy makers, and academics in order to discuss how to define fair work in the platform economy. But, we'd also like your help. If you have any opinions on standards that we should be thinking about, or ways in which we should be implementing them, we'd love to hear from you. We've created this form for you to submit your ideas: bit.ly/FairworkForm

We look forward to your thoughts, and please do pass along the link to anyone else who you think might have something to add.

To read more about our plans, we've put together this short article:

Graham, M. and Woodcock, J. 2018. Towards a Fairer Platform Economy: Introducing the Fairwork Foundation. Alternate Routes. 29. 242-253.