Neighbourhoods, Households and Homes
Edited by Colin Mason, Darja Reuschke, Stephen Syrett and Maarten van Ham
Chapter 4: ICT, internet-enabled work and implications for space and entrepreneurship
In the context of developments in information and communications technologies (ICTs) there is growing interest in opportunities for internet-enabled entrepreneurship. As the internet and ICTs have extended their reach in the economic and social spheres, so they have opened new possibilities and practices in the organisation, content and conduct of work and skills development, how work is contracted and where and how it is undertaken. The internet can alter the contours of labour markets and potentially change how individuals interact with them by broadening access to opportunities and enabling remote and mobile working. This chapter explores conceptually what ICT and internet-enabled work means for the location of work at local, national and international levels, drawing on a review of the literature and on findings from case study research with users of selected internet-enabled platforms. It focuses particularly on ‘crowdsourcing’ – defined broadly as an online-mediated exchange that allows users (organisations or individuals) to access other users via the internet to solve specific problems, to undertake specific tasks or to achieve specific aims. It outlines the diversity and key features of internet-enabled working and implications for the location of work and for entrepreneurship. It addresses two important questions: 1) how and whether internet-enabled working enables workers and businesses to operate in global marketplaces, so superseding the confines of neighbourhoods and local labour markets; and 2) how and whether such forms of work can foster local embeddedness by offering opportunities for entrepreneurship from a home location. It is concluded that crowdsourcing has contradictory relationships with space, since it can provide access to global opportunities, while at the same time enabling local work, as well as issues of flexibility and autonomy.
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