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European project on crowd work

ITAS researchers study the effects of new forms of digital work. In a European research project, they analyze the organization of crowd work and how to improve the working conditions of crowd workers.
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Projekt Crowd Work
Mobile and often on their own: working in the digital crowd. (Photo: Engin Akyurt/Pexels)

How can the interests of workers in the digital economy be better protected? This is the key questions of the European project “Crowd Work – Finding new strategies to organise in Europe”.

The focus is on the growing phenomenon of so-called crowd working, where online platforms place orders with crowd workers who have previously registered with them. The spectrum ranges from food delivery and driving services to simple click jobs and text or graphic design orders. The often precarious working conditions have been increasingly criticized in public debate and have also attracted the attention of labor unions and political institutions in recent years. Increasingly, there are also self-organized protest campaigns by crowd workers.

Representation of crowd workers’ interests

This is where the research project comes in, asking what forms of crowd work exist and what strategies are already being pursued by crowd workers and labor unions, as well as what policy recommendations can be derived from this.

The study has a strong European focus, undertaking a comparison between strategies in Portugal, Spain, Hungary, and Germany. The ambition is to promote transnational knowledge transfer and discuss the topic as a European challenge. To this end, institutes from the four European countries are working together in a research consortium.

Digital work as a European challenge

In close cooperation with the European project partners, ITAS will conduct an explorative case study and an in-depth analysis of the situation of crowd workers in Germany. Major stakeholders in the field, such as labor unions and bottom-up initiatives, will be involved in the study. The two-year project is scheduled to run until mid-2021 and is funded by the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion. (06.12.2019)

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