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Precarious Work and Intermittent Life Trajectories in a Portuguese Gig Economy

In: Journal of Labor and Society
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  • 1 Centre for Social Studies, University of Coimbra, Department of Sociology, Praça Dom Dinis 77, 3000–104 Coimbra, Portugal, Corresponding author, e-mail: isabelroque@ces.uc.pt
  • | 2 Centre for Research and Studies in Sociology (CIES-IUL), Iscte – University Institute of Lisbon, Avenida das Forças Armadas, 1649-026 Lisbon, Portugal, Renato.Carmo@iscte-iul.pt
  • | 3 Centre for Research and Studies in Sociology (CIES-IUL), Iscte – University Institute of Lisbon, Avenida das Forças Armadas, 1649-026 Lisbon, Portugal, rodrigo.assis@iscte-iul.pt
  • | 4 Centre for Research and Studies in Sociology (CIES-IUL), Iscte – University Institute of Lisbon, Avenida das Forças Armadas, 1649-026 Lisbon, Portugal, jorge.caleiras@gmail.com
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Abstract

Rapid advances in technology brought dramatic changes into the labour market, regarding precarious, flexible and informal work. The gig economy has enabled new forms of labour exploitation, social exclusion, intermittent and vulnerable professional trajectories. Not having fully recovered from the Great Recession, the Portuguese society is crossing a Covid-19 global pandemic which has accelerated the digitalisation and platformisation of work fecting not only the value chains, but the labour market dynamics in a heterogenous way. Between 2019 and 2020, 53 in-depth interviews were conducted with precarious workers in Portugal, comprising a focus on 15 life trajectories from digital platform workers. Through their voices, it was concluded that job insecurity is deeply intertwined with the global supply chain management operated by algorithmic control. Most of platform companies threaten established employment relationships, atomising workers who live in the present time without any future aspirations.

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