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Accepted Paper:

Reconfiguring expertise, an algorithm at a time: the case of gig work platforms in India  
Mounika Neerukonda (International Institute of Information Technology Bangalore) Janaki Srinivasan Raktima Kalita (International Institute of Information Technology, Bangalore) Balaji Parthasarathy Meghashree Balaraj (International Institute of Information Technology) Bilahari M (International Institute of Information Technology, Bangalore)

Short abstract:

Algorithmic management in platform work has transformed expertise into petty ‘gig jobs’. ‘Experts’ such as drivers and home service professionals multi-app to make ends meet, in a setting where work allocation and income are influenced by algorithmic management.

Long abstract:

This paper argues that while the growth of digital gig-work platforms , and the ‘flexible’ nature of the work they provide (Cano et al., 2021; Hickson, 2023) enables workers to multi-app, i.e., work for and switch between different platforms to maximise their earnings (Popan, 2023), it simultaneously transforms understandings of expertise in those fields of work (Rani et al., 2023; Sutherland et al., 2020). Drivers, home service professionals (beauticians, plumbers, electricians) and others multi-app to make ends meet in platform-based gig work. They even jump between sectors (multi-apping between ride hailing and food delivery sectors, for instance) in a single day, thereby rendering their core ‘expertise’ beside the point. Instead of skilled practitioners, they act as precarious workers who shift between sectors to make a decent living (Graham et al., 2017; Wood et al., 2018). Where expertise was inferred based on factors such as qualifications, skills and years of experience traditionally, here, perceptions of expertise (workers’ own, the customers’ and the platform’s) are equally influenced by the results of algorithmic work allocation and customer ratings (both of which can limit workers’ probability of getting jobs, growing their income or moving up the economic ladder (De Souza, 2022)). This paper uses interviews conducted by Fairwork India, which has been rating the working conditions of platform-based gig workers annually since 2019, to examine how these new logics of work allocation have transformed definitions of expertise and with what consequences of the shift in expertise for the varied fields of work in question.

Traditional Open Panel P208
Expert no more? Digital technologies and the transformation of expertise
  Session 2 Friday 19 July, 2024, -