Collective Action and Governance in an Online Piecework Economy
The digital gig economy has led to a resurgence of piecework. Without shared factories and water coolers, how do digital pieceworkers coordinate, build solidarity, and take collective action? We will engage in fieldwork with digital pieceworkers who work in data entry, domestic services, and on-demand driving to understand how they counter algorithmic systems and engage in collective behavior. We will then design and launch a new collectively-governed platform for gig workers. Our goal is to both understand the factors that drive collective behavior in distributed gig platforms, and to introduce new designs and infrastructure that enable the growth of worker collective action in the digital piecework (gig) economy. Our results shed light on the strengths and weaknesses of digital piecework cooperativism, as well as the policies necessary for it to succeed.
Ali Alkhatib, Michael S. Bernstein, and Margaret Levi. 2017. Examining Crowd Work and Gig Work Through The Historical Lens of Piecework. In Proceedings of the 2017 CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI '17). ACM, New York, NY, USA, 4599-4616. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1145/3025453.3025974