Seminar Highlights: Juliet Schor on Precarity in the Platform Economy
On February 22nd, 2017 the Digital Seminar series hosted Juliet Schor from Boston College, where she gave a talk on “Inequality and Precarity in the Platform Economy.”
Abstract: Since its introduction in the late 2000s, there has been considerable debate about the impacts of “the platform economy.” In her research, Schor analyzes conditions for platform providers on the basis of approximately 130 in-depth interviews conducted between 2013-2016 with providers on six platforms (Airbnb, TaskRabbit, Uber, Lyft, Postmates and Favor). Schor found that providers have widely varying experiences, earnings and working conditions. A key axis of differentiation is the extent to which they rely on the platform to pay basic expenses versus use it to earn supplemental income. A second divide is the quality of the assets that a provider brings to the platform. Providers on a number of platforms experience low net earnings and inadequate demand, making the platforms a precarious way to earn a living.