Platforms are a new organisational form that transforms many industries and changes how we socialise in daily life. In a very general sense, platforms mediate social and economic interactions online (Kenney and Zysman 2016; Van Dijck et al., 2018). Zooming in on how platforms are being deployed in the economy, we see platforms being used particularly as digital marketplaces, connecting large numbers of suppliers with large numbers of consumers. Here, suppliers are not only professional parties, but also individuals who earn income as independent contractors. Examples are Uber for taxi services, Helpling for cleaning services, and Deliveroo for meal deliveries. Such one-off services, intermediated by online platforms, are now commonly headed on the gig economy, which involves “ex ante specified, paid tasks carried out by independent contractors mediated by online platforms” (Koutsimpogiorgos et al., 2020, p. 525). The term gig thus refers to the trade in discrete tasks (taxi ride, cleaning job, delivery service), where the gig worker is paid separately per gig.
Koen Frenken is Full Professor in Innovation Studies at the Copernicus Institute of Sustainable Development at Utrecht University. His work focuses on innovation, the platform and sharing economies, evolutionary economics and institutional sociology.
Koen Frenken (2021). What regulations for the gig economy? Governing Work in the Digital Age.