Workers of the Internet unite? Online freelancer organisation in six Asian and African countries

This article presents the first ever findings regarding collective organisation among Southeast Asian and Sub-Saharan African online freelancers. Previous research is limited to either conventional freelancers or 'microworkers' who do relatively low-skilled tasks via online labour platforms. This study uses 105 interviews and a survey of 432 freelancers who obtain work via a variety of online platforms to highlight that Internet-based communities play a vital role in their work experiences. Internet-based communities enable workers to help and support each other and share labour market information. This, in turn, increases their security and protection and in some cases constitutes a deliberate attempt to unilaterally regulate pay. These communities are fragmented by nationality, occupation and platform. However, in contrast with extant research we find social media groups play a more central role in structuring communication among online freelancers than forums and unlike conventional freelancer organisation, trade unions are entirely absent.

Wood, A., Lehdonvirta, V. and Graham, M. (2018), 'Workers of the Internet unite? Online freelancer organisation in six Asian and African countries,' New Technology, Work and Employment, 33(2), pp. 95-112.


  • Research publication, Case study-worker
  • Other
  • Yes
  • professional services
  • Online moderately skilled click work
  • representation, industrial relations, social dialogue
  • English
  • New Technology, Work and Employment (Publisher)
  • Quantitative research
  • 2018
  • Subscription
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