“Why lose control?” A Study of Freelancers’ Experiences with Gig Economy Platforms

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Abstract

Freelancing platforms, such as Upwork, represent an expansion of the gig economy to encompass knowledge-based work. Prior research in HCI has primarily focused on forms of gig work such as ride-sharing and microwork but has not addressed how freelancing platforms are disrupting high-skilled knowledge work. To understand freelancers’ perspectives on how these platforms are disrupting their work we have collected and thematically analysed 528 posts with 7499 comments from four relevant subforums on Reddit. The qualitative findings reveal tensions between wanting autonomy and control and the necessity of opportunities and convenience. Freelancing platforms are perceived as systems that present advantages to find clients, gain experience and mitigate precarity. However, these platforms constrain the control over their work that freelancers value. The paper contributes an improved understanding of freelance work, the role and potential for freelancing platforms in the knowledge-based gig economy, and directions for worker-centred design.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 8 May 2021
EventACM CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems 2021 - Online (Originally Yokohama, Japan)
Duration: 8 May 202113 May 2021
https://chi2021.acm.org

Conference

ConferenceACM CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems 2021
Abbreviated titleCHI 2021
Period8/05/2113/05/21
Internet address

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