How Gig Workers Push Back Against Their “Digital Boss” - Deepstash

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Instead of having managers, gig workers are accountable to customer reviews, which creates a number of problems that should be considered.

KELLOGG.NORTHWESTERN

How Gig Workers Push Back Against Their “Digital Boss”

How Gig Workers Push Back Against Their “Digital Boss”

insight.kellogg.northwestern.edu

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The five-star rating system

Anyone who buys goods or services online relies on the five-star rating system for guidance. Digital platforms like Uber, TaskRabbit and Upwork apply the rating system to individual workers.

Workers tend to understand the downsides of an overly simplistic rating system. There are many situa...

The new digital "boss"

The platforms like Uber, TaskRabbit, and Upwork have created a system where the traditional role of the manager has been outsourced to customers and their star-based ratings. This effectively means that the algorithmically mediated customer that monitors and evaluates individuals...

Three work stages

Gig workers- customer interaction is divided into three stages (before, during, and after) that generate distinct forms of worker actions intended to recover some of their control over being rated.

With each subsequent stag...

Researchers found that as workers moved through the different job stages, they responded with resistance measures specific to each stage.

During the "before" stage, workers had the most leeway to use resistance tactics since customers could not yet rate the...

During the second stage, when workers are in the midst of completing a task, their power to resist a customer's demand or complaint is reduced.

Tactics at this stage include

  • offering a discount for a high rating,
  • spreading a single project over ...

When workers are in the third and final stage, they have the least recourse to push back against low ratings

They are left to either file a dispute with the platform or give a customer a low rating.

Collectively seeking control

The limitations of labour platform's rating systems and the frustration they produce in workers are showing as problem on the platforms themselves.

Across the world, new services emerge that are worker-owened cooperatives where individuals have a say over how their workplaces operate. Yet, ...

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