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At least I’m my own boss! Explaining consent, coercion and resistance in platform work

Purcell, Christina and Brook, Paul (2020) At least I’m my own boss! Explaining consent, coercion and resistance in platform work. Work, Employment and Society. ISSN 0950-0170 (In Press)

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Abstract

Platform work has grown significantly in the last decade. High profile legal cases have highlighted the grey area which platform work inhabits in terms of the employment relationship and have raised concerns about the quality and conditions of work. Platform operators claim they are neutral intermediaries, yet often control over scheduling and task lies with them. This article presents a theoretical framework that integrates macro and micro level analyses to account for the production of hegemony and playing-out of consent, coercion and resistance within platform work. It does so by rearticulating Burawoy’s concept of hegemonic despotism by drawing upon Foucauldian notions of neoliberal governmentality and reasserting the centrality of Gramsci’s work in understanding power and hegemony, in particular the concept of contradictory consciousness and the dialogical contest between hegemonic ‘common sense’ and ‘good sense’, which constitutes our understanding and sense-making in the social world.

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