Low-income service work in the “on-demand economy”

This project focuses on two prevalent forms of on-demand labor: cleaning and food delivery. The Principal Investigator will conduct two case studies in each city, each lasting four months – which means that each city will feature eight months of fieldwork. In Amsterdam and Berlin, the two cases are the cleaning service Helpling and the food delivery service UberEATS. In NYC the cases are Handy (a cleaning service) and again UberEATS. These services are backed by significant venture capital and operate in a large number of cities where they (aspire to) have a strong market position. For this reason, they are exemplary sites for a comparative investigation of how competitive on-demand platforms organize markets for low-income service labor. Questions that will be answered include:

  • Who works through these platforms, how often, and why?
  • What are the daily opportunities and challenges of working through these platforms?
  • To what extent/how do the design and operations of these platforms perpetuate or counter existing gender, class, and racial inequalities?
  • What changes do workers desire with respect to this kind of on-demand labor?
Research Team
Related tags