The future of work in the 'sharing economy' market efficiency and equitable opportunities or unfair precarisation?

This critical and scoping review essay analyses digital labour markets where labour-intensive services are traded by matching requesters (employers and/or consumers) and providers (workers). It focuses on digital labour markets which allow the remote delivery of electronically transmittable services (i.e. Amazon Mechanical Turk, Upwork, Freelancers, etc.) and those where the matching and administration processes are digital but the delivery of the services is physical and requires direct interaction. The former broad type is called Online Labour Markets (OLMs) and is potentially global. The latter broad type is termed Mobile Labour Markets (MLMs) and is by definition localised. The essay defines and conceptualises these markets proposing a typology which proves to be empirically valid and heuristically useful. It describes their functioning and the socio-demographic profiles of the participants, reviews their economic and social effects, discusses the possible policy implications, and concludes with a research agenda to support European level policy making. It alternates the discussion of 'hard' findings from experimental and quasi-experimental studies with analysis of 'softer' issues such as rhetorical discourses and media 'hyped' accounts. An in depth analysis of 39 platforms was undertaken together with a formal review of 70 scientific sources.

Codagnone, C., Abadie, F. and Biagi, F. (2016), The future of work in the ‘sharing economy’ market efficiency and equitable opportunities or unfair precarisation? JRC (Joint Research Centre), Seville, Spain.


  • Research publication
  • EU28
  • Yes
  • transport, household tasks, professional services
  • Online moderately skilled click work, Online client-determined specialist work, Online platform-determined higher-skilled work
  • Amazon Mechanical Turk, Freelancer, Upwork
  • income, worker demographics, health and safety, motivation for platform work
  • English
  • JRC (Joint Research Centre) (Research institute)
  • Qualitative research
  • 2016
  • Open access
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