Street-level experiences of the ‘platform society’

I love this series of portraits by Rest of World called Life as a Gig Worker. While a political economy perspective of platform labor tends to focus only on harms and exploitation, this more ethnographic perspective shows that marginalized people are smart and creative, and that they will find workarounds for restoring their agency and dignity. It adds a healthy emic on the ground perspective to the view from above in many studies.

Being trained as an anthropologist myself, this truly resonates. It reminds me of a perhaps lesser-known book by James Scott called Weapons of the Weak, where he present a range of everyday subversive tactics by Malaysian peasants to combat the hegemonic grip of large landlords, and restore a sense of self-worth and pride. This series suggests that we should perhaps focus not only on platform labor as drivers of inequality but also on smart platform appropriation.

Link to series >>

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