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Labour justice in the platform economy


Bieber, Friedemann (2024). Labour justice in the platform economy. Journal of Applied Philosophy, 41(2):235-250.

Abstract

Recent years have witnessed the rise of digital platforms that allow economic agents to arrange ever more fine-grained contracts. This article zooms in on labour-based platforms that permit the hire of labour in a just-in-time fashion (and are part of the broader trend towards on-demand work). Its principal contribution comes in three parts. First, exposing the frequently overlooked diversity of labour-based platforms, the article proposes to distinguish platform companies, which directly sell services and then purchase the labour needed to provide them, and broker platforms, which act merely as intermediaries. Second, it examines how platforms of each type pose distinct threats to labour justice, thereby extending Daniel Halliday’s (2021) analysis. Drawing on empirical studies of the experiences of platform workers, it identifies a power imbalance as the root cause of these threats across all platforms. Finally, the article assesses three strategies to counter these threats: introducing stricter regulation, turning platforms into worker-run co-ops, and improving outside job opportunities. In exploring how each strategy could be implemented for specific platforms, it makes the case for always discussing labour-based platforms with one eye to their specific structural features and the other eye to the broader labour market.

Abstract

Recent years have witnessed the rise of digital platforms that allow economic agents to arrange ever more fine-grained contracts. This article zooms in on labour-based platforms that permit the hire of labour in a just-in-time fashion (and are part of the broader trend towards on-demand work). Its principal contribution comes in three parts. First, exposing the frequently overlooked diversity of labour-based platforms, the article proposes to distinguish platform companies, which directly sell services and then purchase the labour needed to provide them, and broker platforms, which act merely as intermediaries. Second, it examines how platforms of each type pose distinct threats to labour justice, thereby extending Daniel Halliday’s (2021) analysis. Drawing on empirical studies of the experiences of platform workers, it identifies a power imbalance as the root cause of these threats across all platforms. Finally, the article assesses three strategies to counter these threats: introducing stricter regulation, turning platforms into worker-run co-ops, and improving outside job opportunities. In exploring how each strategy could be implemented for specific platforms, it makes the case for always discussing labour-based platforms with one eye to their specific structural features and the other eye to the broader labour market.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:01 Faculty of Theology and the Study of Religion > Center for Ethics
06 Faculty of Arts > Institute of Philosophy
Dewey Decimal Classification:100 Philosophy
Scopus Subject Areas:Social Sciences & Humanities > Philosophy
Language:English
Date:1 May 2024
Deposited On:18 Feb 2023 13:35
Last Modified:29 May 2024 01:48
Publisher:Wiley-Blackwell Publishing, Inc.
ISSN:0264-3758
Additional Information:Bereits als Working Paper in URPP Equality of Opportunity Discussion Paper Series No. 9 erschienen: https://www.zora.uzh.ch/id/eprint/252188/
OA Status:Closed
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1111/japp.12639
Related URLs:https://www.zora.uzh.ch/id/eprint/252188/