Collegium Helveticum

Continuity and Change
Reflecting on over a Decade of Platform-Mediated Gig Work


ETH Zürich
Building CLA/Room J1
Tannenstrasse 3
8006 Zürich

This is a public event. Participation is free of charge.

Only a limited number of places are available for this workshop. Please register here.

Platform-mediated gig work is coming of age, with some platforms being operational for nearly fifteen years. This period has seen both continuity and change. On the one hand, the “gig economy” has continued its global expansion, albeit unevenly, and so have its labor management strategies, regulatory battles, and worker protests. On the other hand, there has been significant market consolidation, with some platform companies having taken a lead and becoming more institutionally embedded, while global market growth has resulted in local and regional variegation of the “gig economy” model.

In sum, as the novelty of the “gig economy” phenomenon has started to wear off, platform firms have survived through a mix of litigation, institutional concessions and product diversification. Following the Covid-19 pandemic, platforms are facing yet a new set of challenges and opportunities impacting business strategies as well as worker struggles–from rapid developments in AI production to inflation and interest rate hikes that put renewed pressure on cost-efficiency. In this context, the motivation for this workshop is to take stock of these continuities and changes, more than a decade into the gig economy’s development. What are the most prominent forces, frictions, dynamics, and outcomes of this development and how do these play out in different parts of the world? What have we learned and what are the remaining blind spots?

While scholarly research on gig economies and platform labour has exploded over the past decade, the field still lacks historical analyses of market and platform evolution, especially geographically varied (and) comparative accounts. Studies that examine gig platform trajectories through time and space are particularly rare, leaving us with questions about how the evolving financing, product, and labor market strategies of specific firms shape regulatory and worker struggles in national and/or local settings. Despite such limitations, however, gig economy scholarship has tackled an increasing range of questions while significantly expanding its geographical scope, resulting in more nuanced analyses of variegated gig economy landscapes. Taking cues from these analysis and building on the work of invited participants, this workshop aims to review and evaluate the past, present and future of the gig economy.


Valeria Pulignano
KU Leuven, BE

Funda Ustek-Spilda
Oxford Internet Institute, UK

Alex Wood
University of Bristol, UK

Christoph Lutz
BI Norwegian Business School, NO

Uma Rani
International Labour Office, Geneva, CH

Al James
Newcastle University, UK

Aditi Surie
Indian Institute for Human Settlements, IN

Antonio Aloisi
IE University, Madrid, SP

Barbara Orth
Leibniz Institute für Raumbezogene Sozialforschung, DE

Cheryll Soriano
De La Salle University, Manilla, PH

Rafael Grohmann
University of Toronto, CA

Julie Chen
University of Toronto, CA

Andrea Pollio
University of Turin, IT

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