Imperfect presents, uncertain futures: Platform housecleaners in the Danish gig economy

Konstantinos Floros

Research output: Book / Anthology / Report / Ph.D. thesisPh.D. thesis

Abstract

Digital labor platforms proliferated all over the world in the last fifteen years creating the gig economy. The growth of the gig economy sparked international debates on social, regulatory, and academic level, in relation to (mis)classification of employment relations and algorithmic management of workers. Especially regarding location-based platforms, emerging literature demonstrates and describes the prevalence of migrants in their labor force and the implications stemming thereof. The Danish gig-economy is a remarkable case within this global setting, due to several particularities of the Danish social, political and economic environment. These include the traditional regulation of the labor market through collective agreements between the social partners, and the existence of a universal welfare state coupled with restrictive migration policies. This thesis is a case study engaging with the phenomenon of housecleaning platform labor in Denmark, analyzing it as an outcome simultaneously shaped by three different factors: a) workers’ livelihood strategies, b) platforms’ affordances and performative aspects, and c) policymaking and regulations on labor market, welfare and migration issues.
Research on domestic work and housecleaning platforms has been underdeveloped in comparison to other platforms, also because of the invisibility of platform housecleaners in the public sphere, which creates practical and methodological obstacles in conducting fieldwork. Thus, this thesis addresses the relative absence of platform housecleaners’ experiences and practices in international literature and brings the cleaners’ voices to the forefront of debates on platform work in Denmark. This dissertation draws on interviews with – predominantly female and migrant – platform housecleaners, stakeholders, digital ethnography in housecleaners’ social media, policy document analysis and other forms of desk-based research.
Platform housecleaning is a precarious form of work, which unfolds on the basis of a double – often unfulfilled – promise. Platform companies promise unhindered flexibility to cleaners and platform workers promise themselves that this work will only be a temporary engagement. Delving deeper into workers’ practices, in the thesis I discern the ways in which they resist their exploitation by platform companies and customers, and how they navigate restrictive regulatory frameworks, welfare exclusions and their minor algorithmic management by platforms. Finally, I examine the role of the Danish state and its institutions over time, in promoting platform housecleaning. Despite providing a lifeline for migrants in urgent need of income, platform housecleaning in Denmark is exacerbating labor market inequalities and augmenting insecurities for its workforce.
Original languageEnglish
PublisherIT-Universitetet
Number of pages265
ISBN (Print)978-87-7949-416-9
Publication statusPublished - 2024
SeriesITU-DS
Number220
ISSN1602-3536

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