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Labour justice in the platform economy


Bieber, Friedemann (2023). Labour justice in the platform economy. URPP Equality of Opportunity Discussion Paper Series 9, University of Zurich.

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 contributions correspond to its three sections. First, the article exposes the frequently overlooked diversity of labour-based platforms. While the debate typically focuses on powerful platform companies, which arguably constitute distinct economic entities, other platforms resemble mere marketplaces or ordinary employers. Second, it argues that staying alert to this diversity is vital because violations of labour justice take different forms across the three types of platforms. The underlying cause, however, is identical: their relative powerlessness renders workers vulnerable to domination and exploitation. Finally, the article examines three strategies for addressing this threat: turning platforms into worker-run co-ops, introducing stricter regulation, and improving outside job opportunities. While each strategy is most suitable in certain contexts, and all three are complementary, the article argues that the last strategy is most significant. This feeds into its overall conclusion: we should always discuss labour-based platforms with an eye towards 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 contributions correspond to its three sections. First, the article exposes the frequently overlooked diversity of labour-based platforms. While the debate typically focuses on powerful platform companies, which arguably constitute distinct economic entities, other platforms resemble mere marketplaces or ordinary employers. Second, it argues that staying alert to this diversity is vital because violations of labour justice take different forms across the three types of platforms. The underlying cause, however, is identical: their relative powerlessness renders workers vulnerable to domination and exploitation. Finally, the article examines three strategies for addressing this threat: turning platforms into worker-run co-ops, introducing stricter regulation, and improving outside job opportunities. While each strategy is most suitable in certain contexts, and all three are complementary, the article argues that the last strategy is most significant. This feeds into its overall conclusion: we should always discuss labour-based platforms with an eye towards the broader labour market.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Working Paper
Communities & Collections:01 Faculty of Theology and the Study of Religion > Center for Ethics
03 Faculty of Economics > Department of Economics
06 Faculty of Arts > Institute of Philosophy
Working Paper Series > URPP Equality of Opportunity Discussion Paper Series
08 Research Priority Programs > Equality of Opportunity
Dewey Decimal Classification:330 Economics
Scope:Discipline-based scholarship (basic research)
Language:English
Date:January 2023
Deposited On:05 Jan 2024 11:35
Last Modified:13 Mar 2024 04:32
Series Name:URPP Equality of Opportunity Discussion Paper Series
Number of Pages:20
Additional Information:This is the pre-peer reviewed version of the article “Labour Justice in the Platform Economy”, which has been published – in its final, and substantially revised form – at the Journal of Applied Philosophy: https://doi.org/10.1111/japp.12639 Please refer to the final, published version of the article when referencing it.
OA Status:Green
Official URL:https://www.urpp-equality.uzh.ch/dam/jcr:2663d815-3821-4288-b5fc-d4e476c2180a/9_Pre-peer%20review%20Labour%20Justice%20in%20the%20Platform%20Economy.pdf
Related URLs:https://www.urpp-equality.uzh.ch/en/Discussion-Paper-Series.html
https://www.zora.uzh.ch/id/eprint/230648/
https://doi.org/10.1111/japp.12639
Other Identification Number:merlin-id:24224
  • Content: Published Version
  • Language: English