Drawing on the social risk thesis, this research studies the risk and welfare experiences of Hong Kong workers working on food delivery platforms and courier platforms. A total of 23 platform workers involved in food delivery work and courier work on the crowdsourcing gig work platform were invited to in-depth interviews, leading to the discovery of workers’ perceptions of the six platform work-related risks, welfare experiences, and work freedom. The researcher argues that platform workers’ experiences result from power asymmetry on the individual, organisational, and institutional levels. The algorithmic control by the platform firms and the dependence of workers on platform work are the respective source of the organisational and individual level power asymmetry, and both are rooted in the absence of employee status in the institutional setting. In addition to the absence of social and labour protection, platform workers are in a disadvantaged position on every level of power asymmetry. An institutional explanation for platform workers’ individualism and pragmatic concerns is also offered. Work freedom serves an instrumental function in initiating workers’ individualised risk coping strategies. Based on the findings and discussion, three policy implications related to workers’ status, the basis of the social and labour protection system, and the possibility of workers collectively bargaining with platforms are outlined. This research brings two contributions to the platform work and welfare studies. First, this research examined platform works and platform workers in Hong Kong. It is argued that workers’ experiences and preferences are found to be bounded by the particular structural and institutional context. Second, platform work is linked to the studies of social risks.
|Date of Award
|24 Oct 2022
|Tat Chor AU YEUNG (Supervisor) & Gizem ARAT (Co-supervisor)