Platform Care, 24 January 2022

24 January 2022 16.00-17.30 UK GMT – Platform Care

Register here.

When people speak of gig economies they usually refer to transport and delivery sectors such as Uber and Deliveroo. Far less attention is given to platforms that advertise care workers. Yet these platforms have developed rapidly and now form a significant “marketplace” for a range of caring services ranging from nannies to dog walkers. They usually operate significant “gig” features such as a competition over rates of pay, no health or safety checks, and reliance on customer ratings and reviews. This session will discuss what happens to care workers when care becomes platformed, and also what happens to social responsibility on platforms with little accountability. Care work has already been subject to destruction of protections and privatisation through subcontracting agencies in which wages and conditions have “raced to the bottom”, a persistent devaluation globally of wages. The experience of the COVID-19 pandemic starkly revealed how the value of care work is rarely recognised, so what happens when it operates in similar ways to other labour that has been gigged and deskilled?

Speakers: Karin Schwiter (Assistant Professor in Labour Geography at the University of Zurich), Simon Yuill (artist, writer and software engineer) and Emma Back (founder of Equal Care).

Discussant: Helen Hester (Professor of Gender, Technology and Cultural Politics at the University of West London).

Chair: Beverley Skeggs (Distinguished Professor of Sociology, Lancaster University and Director of the Centre for Alternatives to Social and Economic Inequalities).