Defining the gig economy: platform capitalism and the reinvention of precarious work

Tom Montgomery, Simone Baglioni

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Purpose
This article seeks to answer the question: how should we conceptualise the “gig economy”? In doing so the authors shall explore if gig economy work should be understood as a novel concept that stands alone, a concept that is a subtype, or whether it may in fact be conceptually redundant.

Design/methodology/approach
The authors conduct a thematic analysis of interview data drawn from 27 interviews with policymakers, trade union officials, key figures within labour organisations and gig economy workers.

Findings
The authors reveal how, from the perspective of key stakeholders, the concept of the gig economy exhibits a lack of “differentiation” from the long-established concept of precarious work of which it is best understood as a subtype.

Research limitations/implications
The empirical findings from the authors’ study should be regarded as limited in terms of being situated in the specific employment context of the UK. Nevertheless, the implications of the study have a broader reach. The authors seek to provoke debate and discussion among scholars across disciplines and contexts working in the areas of precarious work and the gig economy. The authors’ analysis will be of interest to scholars who are concerned with how they conceptualise “new” forms of work.

Originality/value
The analysis offers a novel intervention by revealing how key stakeholders perceive the gig economy through a prism of continuity rather than change and connect it with broader processes of precarity.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages14
JournalInternational Journal of Sociology and Social Policy
Early online date22 Oct 2020
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 22 Oct 2020

Keywords

  • conceptualisation
  • gig economy
  • precarious work
  • platform capitalism

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