Exploring Modern Slavery in the gig-economy: a practice-based study

Maria Laura Frigotto (U. of Trento)
Giuseppe Maria Ercolino (U. of Trento)

Abstract

Gig economy platforms have innovated several service businesses, among others, by changing the labour market and working practices. Such innovation confronts the extant legislative context and results in a grey area of operations that challenges the boundaries of the law. This shaded situation makes it difficult and insidious to distinguish forms of labour exploitation within innovative working practices. To tackle this ambiguity we conducted an ethnographic case study in a digital food delivery company operating in Italy. The final objective of this study is to explore platform-based working practices in order to understand how they might translate into practices of modern slavery. This study adds on the understanding of gig work by conceptualizing platform-based working practices. Furthermore, it contributes to studies on modern slavery by elaborating practices that make modern slavery actioned and actionable in new organizational forms.

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