Labour Geographies of the Gig Economy

The rise of digital gig work platforms has altered the socio-spatial organization of work. Emerging research from Labour Geography has pointed out how platform companies deliberately use dynamics of place, space and scale to construct highly flexible, often precarious labour relations (Graham/Anwar 2019). Platforms achieve this through selectively dis-embedding their relations with workers from place-specific regulatory frameworks (Graham 2020) and through fostering the ‘socio-spatial atomization of workers’ (Wells et al. 2020). As a result, gig workers have often been characterized as particularly vulnerable due to their weak structural, institutional and collective bargaining power (Anwar/Graham 2020). At the same time, Labour Geographers have highlighted how the rise of gig work has brought about distinct forms of worker agency that sustain but also challenge platforms’ exploitative labour practices, including gig workers’ ‘entrepreneurial agency’ (Barrat et al. 2020) as well as collective resistance strategies seeking to re-embed platforms into territorial regulatory frameworks (Johnston 2020; Howson et al. forthcoming).

In this Special Session, we aim to further advance emerging debates on gig work in Labour Geography by deepening our understanding of the interplay of socio-spatial dynamics of labour control, worker agency and regulation in the platform economy. To this end, we especially invite contributions focusing on (but not limited to):