Gig Work on Digital Platforms: Online Support Tools and Forums for AMT Crowdworkers
In a project for USAID, we undertook a study of digital labour platforms in emerging economies.
This study is part of a series of case studies we conducted for USAID. We examined 4 digital platforms targeting workers in emerging economies and their impact on workers’ agency, access to employment opportunities, and employment terms and conditions.
AMAZON MECHANICAL TURK
Microwork platform Amazon Mechanical Turk has caught the attention of scholars and much has been written about the poor and exploitative conditions and global value chain of labour. Many tools and forums to support Turkers have emerged in recent years, some of them worker supported and maintained and other run and managed by researchers and other interested parties.
We examined the case of worker support groups and forums for Amazon Mechanical Turkers in the global south. We initially looked at the case of Turkopticon and Turker Nation, two of the more popular forums and longest-running forums for Turkers based in the global north. We were primarily interested in questions around the role of these tools in building worker solidarity and collectivisation efforts, working conditions, and strategies to effectively access work opportunities. However, we found that for Turkers in India, localised groups on Facebook and WhatsApp were more applicable and resourceful.
We interviewed Amazon Mechanical Turkers located in India, managers of Turker Nation and Turkopticon, group admins of various Turker support social media groups, and researchers. Our findings diverted slightly from narratives from the global north and found that local labour market realities and familial and community relations play a significant role in the experience of Turkers in India.