How Gig Work Pits Customers Against Workers

Lindsey D. Cameron, Member in the School of Social Science, has written for the Harvard Business Review about her research into the global gig economy. 

Cameron, alongside co-author Kalie M. Mayberry, argues that traditional approaches to labor issues have been ineffective in supporting gig workers because, in the gig economy, customer and worker interests "don’t align."

"The gig economy business model inherently pits customers against workers. The vast majority of customers are not gig workers, and gig workers often take on more physical and economic risk than in traditional work. As a result, customers are not always aware of the darker underside of the platforms they use. Additionally, because interactions between customers and gig workers are fleeting and highly transactional, the two groups almost never have the opportunity to build rapport or establish deep, trusting relationships. (Some researchers have even gone so far as to call the relationships between service workers and customers 'pseudo-relationships.')"

While at IAS, Cameron is engaged in several projects in this area, including a multi-national comparative ethnography book project tentatively titled "The Good Bad Job: How Algorithmic Management Reconfigures Work." She is also a participant in PLATFORM, the 2023–24 theme seminar in the School of Social Science, which seeks to examine the expansion, rise, and influence of "the platform" in global society. The theme seminar is led by Harold F. Linder Professor Alondra Nelson.

Read Cameron and Mayberry's full article at Harvard Business Review.