Gigs of their Own: can platform cooperatives become resilient?

The gig economy, where mostly self-employed workers perform short-term service jobs intermediated by digital platforms, is often portrayed as offering a glimpse at the future of work. Platform cooperatives that are owned and controlled by gig workers themselves have emerged as an alternative form of organisation to the currently dominant investor-owned platforms. The appeal of platform cooperatives as an alternative is to provide more secure working conditions and democratic control over the platform. In his PhD project, Damion Bunders investigates the challenges that gig workers face when organising themselves in a cooperative enterprise. In particular, he provides insight into the initial feasibility and more long-term challenges of platform cooperatives as one institutional approach to organise work differently in the gig economy by analysing the conditions under which cooperatives of gig workers can become resilient. The project addresses questions on enterprise formation, member commitment, democratic governance, and coordination of collective resources. Damion takes a multi-disciplinary and multi-method approach, combining theory from sociology and institutional economics with interview, survey, and text analysis research. Just as economists have long wondered why firms are usually controlled by capital suppliers instead of by labour suppliers, this dissertation addresses the puzzle of why platforms are not more commonly owned and governed by workers.


Collective action, Cooperatives, Democracy, Employee ownership, Future of work, Gig economy, Institutions, Labour-managed firms, Platforms, Resilience

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