Between a rock and a hard place: Freedom, flexibility, precarity and vulnerability in the gig economy in Africa

Mohammad Amir Anwar, Mark Graham

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

The world of work is changing. Communications technologies and digital platforms have enabled some types of work to be delivered from anywhere in the world by anyone with a computer and an internet connection. This digitally-mediated work brings jobs to parts of the world traditionally characterized by low incomes and high unemployment rates. As such, it has been touted by governments, third-sector organizations, and the private sector as a novel strategy of economic development. Drawing on a four-year study with 65 workers in South Africa, Kenya, Nigeria, Ghana and Uganda, we examine the development implications of the gig economy on labour in Africa. We offer four analytical development dimensions through which platform-based remote work impacts the lives and livelihoods of African workers, i.e. freedom, flexibility, precarity and vulnerablity. We argue that these dimensions should be understood in a continuum to better explain the working conditions and lives of workers in the gig economy.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-22
Number of pages22
JournalCompetition and Change
VolumeN/A
Early online date1 Apr 2020
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 1 Apr 2020

Keywords

  • gig economy
  • freedom
  • flexibility
  • precarity
  • vulnerability
  • job quality
  • Africa

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