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



Montgomery T & Baglioni S (2021) Defining the gig economy: platform capitalism and the reinvention of precarious work. International Journal of Sociology and Social Policy, 41 (9/10), pp. 1012-1025.

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.

General Economics; Econometrics and Finance; Sociology and Political Science

International Journal of Sociology and Social Policy: Volume 41, Issue 9/10

FundersGlasgow Caledonian University
Publication date13/10/2021
Publication date online22/10/2020
Date accepted by journal05/10/2020

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Dr Tom Montgomery

Dr Tom Montgomery

Lecturer in Work & Organisations, Management, Work and Organisation