Skip to main content Accessibility help
×
Home
  • Print publication year: 2020
  • Online publication date: October 2020

5 - Just a Gig?

Summary

While gig-based work is marketed by platforms as an attractive opportunity, little attention has been paid to the long-term experience of gig workers. Based on longitudinal interviews with 11 gig workers, this chapter seeks to answer the question, what is the impact of gig economy work on a worker’s future career trajectory and personal life? To paraphrase Kalleberg (2011), is gig-based work a good or bad job? What distinguishes those workers who move out of gig work from those workers who remain engaged in gig work, whether by choice or circumstance? Do workers think that extensive time spent in gig work as a primary source of income has affected their ability to move to stable traditional employment? This chapter connects gig work to a larger discussion of “side hustles” and worker reliance on additional sources of income, and the impact of underemployment on wages and employment call-backs. The negative career implications of gig work, especially long-term gig work, suggest serious inequities in regards to worker opportunity or experience. These inequities should be cause for concern among labor and employment law scholars, and further support the importance of establishing a social safety net and workplace protections for gig workers.

Related content

Powered by UNSILO
Autor, D. H., and Houseman, S. N.. “Temporary Agency Employment: A Way Out of Poverty?” in Working and Poor: How Economic and Policy Changes Are Affecting Low-Wage Workers, eds. Blank, Rebecca M., Danziger, Sheldon H., and Schoeni, Robert F.. New York: Russell Sage Foundation, 2016.
Baker, D. “Don’t Buy the ‘Sharing Economy’ Hype: Airbnb and Uber Are Facilitating Rip-Offs.” The Guardian, May 27, 2014. www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/may/27/airbnb-uber-taxes-regulation.
Bell, D. N. F. and Blanchflower, D. G.. “Young People and the Great Recession.” Institute for the Study of Labor Discussion Paper Series 5674, 2011. http://ftp.iza.org/dp5674.pdf.
Botsman, Rachel and Rodgers, Roo. What’s Mine Is Yours: The Rise of Collaborative Consumption. New York: Harper Collins, 2010.
Brand, J. E.The Far-Reaching Impact of Job Loss and Unemployment.” Annual Review of Sociology, 41, 359375, 2015.
Bureau of Labor Statistics. U.S. Department of Labor, “The Economics Daily, Number of people working part time for economic reasons falls in June 2016” at www.bls.gov/opub/ted/2016/number-of-people-working-part-time-for-economic-reasons-falls-in-june-2016.htm.
Chokshi, N. “Yes, People Really Are Eating Tide Pods. No, It’s Not Safe.” The New York Times, Jan. 20, 2018, www.nytimes.com/2018/01/20/us/tide-pod-challenge.html.
Davis, S. J., and Haltiwanger, J.. “Labor Market Fluidity and Economic Performance.” NBER Working Paper No. 20479. Cambridge, Mass.: National Bureau of Economic Research, 2014.
Dixon, A. “Survey: Nearly 1 in 3 Side Hustlers Needs the Income to Stay Afloat.” Bankrate.com, June 5, 2019, www.bankrate.com/personal-finance/side-hustles-survey-june-2019/.
Dynan, K., Elmendorf, D. and Sichel, D.. “The Evolution of Household Income Volatility.” The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis and Policy, 12(2), 142, 2012. Retrieved 18 Aug. 2017, from doi:10.1515/1935-1682.3347.
Evans, J. “Meet the New Serfs, Same as the Old Serfs.” TechCrunch, Oct 5, 2013. http://techcrunch.com/2013/10/05/meet-the-new-serfs-same-as-the-old-serfs/.
Farber, H. S., Silverman, D., and von Wachter, T. M.. “Factors Determining Callbacks to Job Applications by the Unemployed: An Audit Study.” RSF: The Russell Sage Foundation Journal of the Social Sciences, 3(3), 168201, 2017.
Farrell, D. and Greig, F. E.. “The Online Platform Economy: Has Growth Peaked?” (November 15, 2017). https://ssrn.com/abstract=2911194.
Farrell, D. and Greig, F. E.. “Paychecks, Paydays, and the Online Platform Economy: Big Data on Income Volatility.” JP Morgan Chase & Co. Institute, February 2016. https://ssrn.com/abstract=2911293.
Federal Reserve Board. “Report on the Economic Well-Being of U.S. Households in 2016.” May 2017. www.federalreserve.gov/publications/files/2016-report-economic-well-being-us-households-201705.pdf.
Federal Reserve Board. “Report on the Economic Well-Being of U.S. Households in 2018.” May 2019. www.federalreserve.gov/publications/files/2018-report-economic-well-being-us-households-201905.pdf.
Ferber, M. A., and Waldfogel, J.. “The Long-Term Consequences of Nontraditional Employment.” Columbia University Academic Commons, https://doi.org/10.7916/D8794FDK. ANNALS of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, 650 (1), 7897, 1998.
Frenken, K., Meelen, T., Arets, M. and van de Glind, P. “Smarter Regulation for the Sharing Economy,” The Guardian, May 20, 2015. www.theguardian.com/science/political-science/2015/may/20/smarter-regulation-for-the-sharing-economy.
Frasquilho, D., Matos, M. G., Salonna, F., Guerreiro, D., Storti, C. C., Gaspar, T., and Caldas-de-Almeida, J. M.. “Mental Health Outcomes in Times of Economic Recession: A Systematic Literature Review.” BMC Public Health, 16, 115, 2016.
Greenhouse, S. The Big Squeeze: Tough Times for the American Worker. New York: Knopf, 2008.
Greenhouse, S. Beaten Down, Worked Up: The Past, Present, and Future of American Labor. New York: Knopf, 2019.
Grusky, D. B., Western, B., and Wimer, C., eds. The Great Recession. New York: Russell Sage Foundation, 2011.
Hart, K.Informal Income Opportunities and Urban Employment in Ghana.” The Journal of Modern African Studies, 11(1), 6189, 1973, retrieved from www.jstor.org/stable/159873.
Hart, K.The Informal Economy.” Cambridge Anthropology, 10(2), 5458, 1985, retrieved from www.jstor.org/stable/23816368.
Heinrich, C., Mueser, P. R. and Troske, K. R.. “Welfare to Temporary Work: Implications for Labor Market Outcomes.” The Review of Economics and Statistics, 87(1), 154173, 2005.
Hout, M., and Hastings, O. P.. “The Social Recession: Americans’ Subjective Reactions to the Great Recession and Lagging Economy Since 2006.” Paper presented at annual meeting of the American Sociological Association. San Francisco (August 16–19, 2014).
Kalamar, A. “Sharewashing Is the New Greenwashing.” OpEdNews.com, May 13, 2013. www .opednews.com/articles/Sharewashing-is-the-New-Gr-by-Anthony-Kalamar-130513–834.html.
Kalleberg, A. Good Jobs, Bad Jobs: The Rise of Polarized and Precarious Employment Systems in the United States. New York: Russell Sage Foundation, 2011.
Kalleberg, A. L. and von Wachter, T. M.. “The U.S. Labor Market During and After the Great Recession: Continuities and Transformations.” RSF: The Russell Sage Foundation Journal of the Social Sciences, 3(3), 119, 2017.
Mathews, J. “The Sharing Economy Boom Is About to Bust.” Time, June 27, 2014. http://time.com/2924778/airbnb-uber-sharing-economy/.
McAfee, A. and Brynjolfsson, E.. Machine, Platform, Crowd: Harnessing Our Digital Future. New York: Norton, 2017.
McCue, T. J. “Looking for a Side Hustle or Freelance Gig? Check Out These Sites.” Forbes, July 28, 2019. www.forbes.com/sites/tjmccue/2019/07/28/looking-for-a-side-hustle-or-freelance-gig-check-out-these-sites/#3676e76b56ad.
Mieszkowski, K. “Don’t Wanna Be Your (Temp) Slave.” Fast Company, August 31, 1998. Retrieved Aug 26, 2017. www.fastcompany.com/35119/dont-wanna-be-your-temp-slave.
Morduch, J. and Schneider, R.. The Financial Diaries: How American Families Cope in a World of Uncertainty. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2017.
Nunley, J. M., Pugh, A., Romero, N., and Seals, R. A. Jr.Unemployment, Underemployment, and Employment Opportunities: Results from a Correspondence Audit Study of the Labor Market for College Graduates.” Industrial and Labor Relations Review, 70(3) 642669, 2016.
Pew Research Center. “Shared, Collaborative and On Demand: The New Digital Economy.” May 2016. www.pewresearch.org/internet/2016/05/19/the-new-digital-economy/.
Pew Research Center. “How Income Volatility Interacts with American Families’ Financial Security: An Examination of Gains, Losses, and Household Economic Experiences.” March 9, 2017. www.pewtrusts.org/en/research-and-analysis/issue-briefs/2017/03/how-income-volatility-interacts-with-american-families-financial-security.
Portes, A.The Informal Economy and Its Paradoxes,” in Handbook of Economic Sociology, eds. Smelser, Neil J. and Swedberg, Richard. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1994.
Ravenelle, Alexandrea J.Sharing Economy Workers: Selling, Not Sharing.” Cambridge Journal of Regions, Economy and Society, 10(2) 281295, 2017. https://doi.org/10.1093/cjres/rsw043.
Ravenelle, Alexandrea J. Hustle and Gig: Struggling and Surviving in the Sharing Economy. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2019.
Schor, Juliet B.Does the Sharing Economy Increase Inequality Within the Eighty Percent?: Findings from a Qualitative Study of Platform Providers.” Cambridge Journal of Regions, Economy and Society, 10(2) 263279 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1093/cjres/rsw047.
Schor, J. B. and Fitzmaurice, C.. “Collaborating and Connecting: The Emergence of a Sharing Economy,” in Handbook on Research on Sustainable Consumption, eds. Reisch, Lucia and Thogersen, John. Cheltenham: Edward Elgar, 2015.
Schor, J. B. “Debating the Sharing Economy,” Great Transition Initiative (October 2014), www.greattransition.org/publication/debating-the-sharing-economy.
Schor, J. B. True Wealth: How and Why Millions of Americans Are Creating a Time-rich, Ecologically-light, Small-scale, High-satisfaction Economy. New York: The Penguin Press, 2011.
Song, J, and von Wachter, T.. “Long-Term Nonemployment and Job Displacement.” Evaluating Labor Market Dynamics, Proceedings from the Jackson Hole Economic Policy Symposium Sponsored by the Federal Reserve Board of Kansas City, Jackson Hole, Wyo. (August 2014). www.kansascityfed.org/publicat/sympos/2014/2014vonWachter.pdf.
Standing, G. The Precariat: The New Dangerous Class. London: Bloomsbury Academic, 2011.
Weiss, R. S. Learning from Strangers: The Art and Method of Qualitative Interview Studies. New York: The Free Press, 1994.
Weber, Max. Economy and Society: An Outline of Interpretive Sociology. trans. Fischoff, Ephraim et al. eds. Roth, Guenther and Wittich, Claus. Berkeley: University of California Press, [1922] 1978.