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Accepted Paper:

The Financialization of Inclusion: Digital Employment in Nigeria and the New Social Contract  
Kate Meagher (London School of Economics and Political Science)

Paper short abstract:

Digital employment has been touted as a solution to Africa's jobs crisis. Calls for a new social contract to support the expansion of digital work are turning an urgent demand for more decent work into a new regime of accumulation based on the financialization of precarious labour.

Paper long abstract:

The rise of digital employment platforms, often referred to as the 'gig economy', has been accompanied by a call for a new social contract in order to facilitate expanded creation of quality employment. This offers a potential solution to the acute jobs crisis in Africa, characterized by high levels of informality, unemployment and rapid population growth. This paper looks beyond the hype to explore how the gig economy is reshaping livelihood opportunities and reformatting processes of social and economic inclusion among digital taxi drivers in Nigeria. Do proposed changes in the social contract address the problems of precarity and disaffection among Nigerian digital taxi drivers, or do they consolidate a new regime of accumulation around the digital incorporation and financialization of precarious labour? This talk will examine the quality of livelihoods created by the gig economy, and the limitations of digital employment in promoting sustainable livelihoods and the public good. The Nigerian case will inform a consideration of whether the prevailing vision of a new social contract represents a mechanism of economic inclusion or adverse incorporation for Nigeria's informal labour force. It will also explore how the gig economy is reshaping the basis on which the informal and unemployed masses in developing countries are being included in circuits of contemporary capitalism. This will form a basis for reflecting on how digital labour and the new social contract are transforming the role of labour in circuits of global accumulation, turning developing country labour from a workforce into an asset class.

Panel P13a
The precarious New Deal: inclusive development and precarious workers I
  Session 1 Wednesday 30 June, 2021, -