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Platform work-lives in the gig economy: Recentering work–family research

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Al JamesORCiD



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0).


Crowdwork platforms have been widely celebrated as challenging gendered labor market inequalities through new digitally mediated possibilities for reconciling work, home, and family. This paper interrogates those claims and explores the wider implications of digital labor platforms for an expansive work–family research agenda stubbornly rooted in formal modes of employment in the “analogue” economy. Based on ethnographic research with women platform workers in the UK (using PeoplePerHour, Upwork, Freelancer, Fiverr, and Copify), the paper asks: what are women crowdworkers' lived experiences of integrating paid work and family relative to formal employment? And what coping tactics have women developed to reduce gendered work–family conflicts on digital labor platforms? In response to these research questions, the paper makes three contributions. First, it offers a critical review of recent commentary to theorize how disruptive innovations by digital labor platforms to recast long-standing definitions of “work”, “workers”, “managers”, and “employers” have served to position platforms and platform workers as somehow outside the analytical gaze of the expansive work–family research agenda. Second, it extends a growing alternative work–family analysis of platform work to examine the kinds of “work–life balance” (WLB) provision available to women crowdworkers in the absence of an employer; and how women's experiences of algorithmically mediated

Publication metadata

Author(s): James A

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Gender, Work and Organization

Year: 2023

Pages: epub ahead of print

Online publication date: 10/11/2023

Acceptance date: 20/10/2023

Date deposited: 20/11/2023

ISSN (print): 0968-6673

ISSN (electronic): 1468-0432

Publisher: Wiley-Blackwell Publishing Ltd.


DOI: 10.1111/gwao.13087


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Funder referenceFunder name
British Academy Mid-Career Fellowship (2018–2019)