What is the gig economy?

Many people are now familiar with companies such as AirBNB, Uber, Deliveroo and others associated with delivering services to consumers. But there are a large number of other digital platforms that are used to connect people wanting work done, and people wanting work. In contrast with traditional forms of employment, “gig” work is often one-off, or involves project work.


The platform economy facilitates economic and social activity by platforms. It is mediated by digital technology. It provides online platforms for gig economy workers who seek temporary or contract work.

Our classification of those online platforms has two segments: 'crowd work' and ‘work on demand’.  ​


There is no single agreed definition of the gig economy (also sometimes referred to as the sharing or collaborative economy). We use it to refer to that part of the economy in which digital platforms are used to deliver services. These have become increasingly common in industries such as delivery, couriering, household services and hospitality.


The gig economy is a key trend shaping the future of work in Australia and globally. Patchy data suggests the number of gig workers in Australia is substantial (e.g. 80,000 Uber drivers) and growing. 



The intended outcomes for Gig Watch

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Associate Professor Sarah Kaine and artist Eugeneia Lim are exploring ways to collaborate to highlight the experience of work in the digital, on demand economy.

Made in collaboration with workers from the gig economy, On-demand is a pedal-powered video work that considers work, labour, solidarity and movement (political and physical) in the neoliberal present. Living and working in 2019 brings precarity, competition and mobility – both for independent artists and ‘independent contractors’ of the gig economy. Self-exploitation, low wages and zero-hour contracts are shared terrain for many workers in both the cultural and service sectors.

Watch: On Demand 

by artist Eugenia Lim

Chief Investigator Associate Professor Sarah Kaine


Associate Professor

Valerie Gay


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