The Future of Work and Employment
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The Future of Work and Employment

Edited by Adrian Wilkinson and Michael Barry

This cutting-edge book charts the latest ideas and concepts in employment relations research. Mapping out the intellectual boundaries of the field, The Future of Work and Employment outlines the key research and policy outcomes for work and employment in the age of digitisation and artificial intelligence.
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Chapter 10: Work and wages in the gig economy: can there be a high road?

Joshua Healy and Andreas Pekarek


The gig economy is a flashpoint in many contemporary debates about the future of work. Platforms’ reliance on contract workers is controversial and has prompted numerous legal challenges. To date, however, there is no definitive ruling about gig workers’ employment status, and many of these workers continue to face ongoing risks due to low pay, precarity, and other vulnerabilities in the gig economy. In this chapter, we attempt to move beyond the unsettled issue of gig workers’ employment status, without denying its economic and moral importance. We discuss three additional promising – but less prominent – routes to improving gig work conditions: worker activism, ethical consumption, and favourable labour market dynamics. We break new ground, by applying the influential High Road perspective from industrial relations to the gig economy. This provides us with a powerful normative benchmark for re-evaluating gig work, while also extending the analytical range of the High Road framework.

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