Digital economy and digital labour terminology: Making sense of the 'gig economy', 'online labour', 'crowd work', 'microwork', 'platform labour', etc.

Confused about the gig economy vs. platform economy vs. on-demand economy? Befuddled by online labour vs. digital labour vs. platform labour? Bemused by microwork vs. crowdwork vs. digital work? Then read on. This paper analyses the myriad terminologies that have arisen in relation to the digital economy and digital labour. In detailed tables, it assesses the prevalence and currency within research literature of nearly 30 different terms. It then provides a definition for each and summarises the typical content of literature using the term. It also summarises current popularity of related Twitter hashtags. Taking the specific example of online outsourcing of digital tasks, the paper analyses which of the different terms is most appropriate as an identifier (concluding these to be “online labour”, “online outsourcing” and “gig economy” depending on focal interest), and presents a graphical summary. The review data provided can be re-used to identify the most-appropriate term for other labour-related topics in the digital economy.

Heeks, R. (2017), Digital economy and digital labour terminology: Making sense of the 'gig economy', 'online labour', 'crowd work', 'microwork', 'platform labour', etc., Working Paper, No. 70, Centre for Development Informatics Global Development Institute, SEED, Manchester, UK.

Metadata

  • Research publication
  • Other
  • Yes
  • no specific sector focus
  • platform characteristics and business model
  • English
  • Global Development Institute, SEED, University of Manchester (Research institute)
  • Qualitative research
  • 2017
  • Open access
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