In 2017 I spent three months working as a food delivery courier to gain a better understanding of how new technologies are affecting the organization of work, exploitation and resistance. My coauthors and I followed this up with 14 interviews with food delivery couriers across France, the UK, Germany and Italy. We found that couriers have quite varied understandings of this work: as a leisure activity, as economic opportunity and as precarious labour, and these interpretations affect their assessment of the fairness of the labour exchange. As time goes on, platform firms tend to reduce pay and intensify work, and this leads many couriers to unveil the divergence of political interests of the platform firms and workers.
Shanahan, Genevieve and Mark Smith. (2021). Fair’s fair: Psychological contracts and power in platform work. International Journal of Human Resource Management.
Stewart, Paul, Genevieve Shanahan and Mark Smith. (2020). Individualism and collectivism at work in an era of deindustrialisation: Work narratives of food delivery couriers in the platform economy. Frontiers in Sociology, 5(49), 1-14.
Shanahan, Genevieve and Mark Smith (2019). Work in the ‘gig economy’: one-night stand or a meaningful relationship? The Conversation: Online, in French and English.
Stewart, Paul, Mark Smith and Genevieve Shanahan (2021, May). Individualism and collectivism at work in an era of deindustrialization: Work narratives of food delivery couriers in the platform economy. Digital realities: work, mobilities, and new opportunities and risks in Central and Eastern Europe in the (post)pandemic period, University of Wroclaw, Poland.
Smith, Mark, Genevieve Shanahan, and Paul Stewart. (2019, June). Work narratives of food delivery couriers in the platform economy. Conference of the Society for the Advancement of Socio-Economics (SASE), New York, USA.
Shanahan, Genevieve and Mark Smith. (2017, December). Unmet expectations of the platform economy: A study of food delivery couriers in France and Britain. MOTI workshop, Grenoble Ecole de Management, France.
Shanahan, Genevieve and Mark Smith. (2017, September). Gig Workers and the psychological contract: Understanding employer-‘employee’ obligations in a precarious world. International Working Party on Labour Market Segmentation (IWPLMS), Manchester, UK.