Of crowds and talents: discursive constructions of global online labour

Online platforms not only serve to exchange information and goods but increasingly also service work provided by the self-employed. The emergence of crowdsourcing of paid work has created a global market for online labour where services can be fully acquired and provided irrespective of location via platforms such as upwork.com or freelancer.com. Drawing on a content analysis of the websites of 44 globally operating platforms, this study has investigated the discursive construction of this new type of labour market. The findings show that platforms address the online workforce in different ways, for instance, as workers or freelancers. Contrary to their blanket characterisation as an anonymous crowd in previous academic debate, in most cases, online workers are forced to present themselves as talented experts to distinguish themselves from the mass of competitors. The control over online labour that these platforms exercise challengesexisting conceptions of professionalism and self-employment.

Pongratz, H. (2018), 'Of crowds and talents: discursive constructions of global online labour', New Technology, Work and Employment, 33(1), pp. 58-73.


  • Research publication
  • Other
  • Yes
  • professional services
  • platform characteristics and business model
  • English
  • New Technology, Work and Employment (Publisher)
  • Qualitative research
  • 2018
  • Subscription
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