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Conference Papers Year : 2020

Surviving the Gig Economy in the Global South: How Cape Town Domestic Workers Cope

Boitumelo Lesala Khethisa
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Pitso Tsibolane
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Jean-Paul Van Belle
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The gig economy continues to disrupt different traditional markets such as transport, accommodation, and domestic work in the global South. The gig economy offers flexibility, autonomy and higher earning potential for gig workers. However, it is not without its challenges such as precarious working arrangements, occupational hazards and employment uncertainty. This study explores key survival strategies employed by domestic workers offering their services through one of South Africa’s prominent gig platforms that specializes in domestic work. The study used semi-structured interviews with questions based on an adapted conceptual framework based on Folkman’s cognitive theory of stress and coping. Three main categories of challenges face domestic workers in the gig economy: application induced technology challenges such as platform usability; occupation-specific challenges such as exposure to dangerous and unhealthy environments; and gig work induced service perceptions such as unrealistic expectations. These challenges result in negative consequences such as personal trauma, exhaustion and financial loss. Workers report feeling exploited and unsure about their relationship with the platform. The workers adopt various problem-focused, emotion-focused, support-seeking, and meaning-making survival strategies that include avoiding bookings by previously problematic customers, negotiating alternative terms with customers outside of the app, enduring traumatic experiences and complying with unreasonable demands. Platforms should consider financial and relationship transparency in their relationship with gig workers as well as affording gig workers more choice and flexibility regarding client bookings.
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Dates and versions

hal-03450706 , version 1 (26-11-2021)





Boitumelo Lesala Khethisa, Pitso Tsibolane, Jean-Paul Van Belle. Surviving the Gig Economy in the Global South: How Cape Town Domestic Workers Cope. IFIP Joint Working Conference on the Future of Digital Work: The Challenge of Inequality (IFIPJWC), Dec 2020, Hyderabad, India. pp.67-85, ⟨10.1007/978-3-030-64697-4_7⟩. ⟨hal-03450706⟩
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