Flexibility, Occupation and Gender: Insights from a Panel Study of Online Freelancers

Isabel Munoz, Michael Dunn, Steve Sawyer

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

Abstract

We report findings and discuss implications from a panel study of 68 U.S.-based online freelancers. These findings emerge from analysis of two rounds of data collection: The first round straddled the arrival of COVID in 2020 and the ensuing pandemic-inspired economic downturn. The second round, from early 2021, provides insight into how online work changed in the following months. We see online freelancing as a window into one future of work, one where the market, not the organization, is the primary structure of the worker-employer interaction, mediated by digital platforms and relying on both algorithms and interaction between parties. Our purposive sampling framework, multiple sources of data, and longitudinal design provides for both empirical and conceptual insights into the occupational differences and arrangements of freelance workers. Findings make clear: 1) these workers value job flexibility even as workers experience diminishing flexibility; 2) occupation mediates worker’s experiences; and 3) gender differences impact the outcomes of this form of work. These findings also highlight the precarity of online freelance work, raising questions about both online freelancing, and market-based labor structures more generally, as a sustainable source of work or viable career path.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationInformation for a Better World
Subtitle of host publicationShaping the Global Future - 17th International Conference, iConference 2022, Proceedings
EditorsMalte Smits
PublisherSpringer Science and Business Media Deutschland GmbH
Pages311-318
Number of pages8
ISBN (Print)9783030969561
DOIs
StatePublished - 2022
Event17th International Conference on Information for a Better World: Shaping the Global Future, iConference 2022 - Virtual, Online
Duration: Feb 28 2022Mar 4 2022

Publication series

NameLecture Notes in Computer Science (including subseries Lecture Notes in Artificial Intelligence and Lecture Notes in Bioinformatics)
Volume13192 LNCS
ISSN (Print)0302-9743
ISSN (Electronic)1611-3349

Conference

Conference17th International Conference on Information for a Better World: Shaping the Global Future, iConference 2022
CityVirtual, Online
Period2/28/223/4/22

Keywords

  • COVID-19
  • Freelance work
  • Gender
  • Knowledge work
  • Platform work
  • Precarity
  • Upwork
  • Work flexibility

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Theoretical Computer Science
  • Computer Science(all)

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