‘People who are responsible for caring for loved ones need the ability to fit their work schedules and their caregiving schedules together. That’s where the new digital labor economy – call it what you like: the sharing economy, the gig economy, the on-demand economy, the platform economy – holds enormous promise, if we make the right choices. For professional women, the on-demand economy is already a godsend… to advance in their careers or at least stay in the game while being the kind of parents they want to be’ (Slaughter 2015:2).
This research funded by the British Academy explores the online labour market possibilities for improved ‘work-life balance’, female worker empowerment and gender inclusive growth in the ‘platform economy’ (or ‘on-demand’ or ‘peer-to-peer economy’) in the UK.
The project has developed a rich new evidence base of in-depth interviews with 52 women, a portfolio of over 100 autobiographical images of gig work-home spaces; and a series of artist renderings (Jennie Temple) that respond to interview quotes. These data document the lived experiences of women with young families juggling on-demand gig work with everyday activities of social reproduction, in ways that potentially disrupt (versus reinforce) stubborn gendered labour market inequalities.
The project is developed through fieldwork with women whose work-lives are governed by popular online jobs platforms in the UK (including Peopleperhour, Upwork, TaskRabbit, Freelancer, Fiverr, and Copify. The research was carried out by Professor Al James, Geography, Newcastle University.