Lunch Talk with Vili Lehdonvirta on Online labour markets, inequality, and global development

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What are the societal effects of online labour markets and the "sharing economy"? On the one hand, they can be seen as part of an overall trend from stable long-term employment relationships towards precarious, entrepreneurial, and market-based work in Western labour markets, exposing individuals to social risks. On the other hand, online labour markets can be seen as vehicles of global economic inclusion, providing workers in low-income countries with direct access to Western labour markets -- a sort of "virtual migration" without the social costs of physical migration. In this presentation, I address these hypotheses with my earlier work on Amazon Mechanical Turk as well as with ongoing work with Mark Graham, Isis Hjorth, and Helena Barnard on oDesk transaction data and recent fieldwork in Southeast Asia. I will also describe briefly my upcoming ERC-funded research project "iLabour: The Construction of Labour Markets, Institutions and Movements on the Internet".