gig economy

a.k.a. engagement economy, gig plus, individual gig, on-demand marketplace, sharing economy, collaborative consumption, digital labor platforms, click worker, car sharing, home sharing, Turkers

The gig economy refers to the practice of businesses hiring independent contractors and short-term workers, and the increased availability of workers for these short-term arrangements. It is a labor market characterized by the prevalence of temporary work, as opposed to permanent jobs.

Historical perspective: Gig is slang for a live musical performance. Originally coined in the 1920s by jazz musicians, the term, short for the word "engagement", now refers to any aspect of musical performing and now, any kind of work performance.

As of April 2018, perks, an estimated 41 million Americans were participating in the gig economy. Due in part to the popularity of the Internet, and with it, the capability for remote work, and due in part to the nature of apps like Uber (car sharing) and Airbnb (home sharing), the gig economy began flourishing in 2015.

But it started becoming an online hell for workers by late 2018 and Karl Marx would not be surprised by the gig economy, said Leonid Bershidsky in Marx’s proletariat was made up of laborers who were increasingly impoverished by the rise of machines. That describes the workers on “digital labor platforms” such as Amazon’s Mechanical Turk perfectly. The “click-worker” jobs on these platforms can include filling out questionnaires for academic researchers, transcribing audio, even moderating content for social networks. These jobs are demanding and require education, yet the people who do them earn an average of only $4.43 an hour, according to a survey of 3,500 workers from 75 countries. That number falls to $3.31 an hour when you factor in unpaid time spent looking for orders, researching clients, and taking qualification tests. It’s not just workers in poor countries who are paid these wages. Two-thirds of U.S. “Turkers” made less than the federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour. These are hellish jobs without even basic worker protections. Should a modern society tolerate jobs that come with no worker rights and no possibility of dignified survival? And even if such jobs are allowed, should they be offered by big tech companies that provide outsize returns to shareholders? Shouldn’t gig workers get to live in a world that feels like 2018, not Marx’s 1848?

NetLingo Classification: Online Business