Delivery workers and the interplay of digital and mobility (in)justice

Delivery workers and the interplay of digital and mobility (in)justice
AuthorGiovanni Vecchio, Ignacio Tiznado-Aitken, Camila Albornoz, Martín Tironi
Line(s)Acceso y movilidad
Year of Publication2022
Journal TitleDigital Geography and Society
Gig economy workers, On-demand delivery services, Precariousness, Mobility, COVID-19 pandemic

On-demand delivery services are experiencing a moment of expansion, which the COVID-19 pandemic contributed to foster. For cities in quarantine, these services allow the supply of food and other primary goods without moving from home, making riders move and access them on behalf of the clients. During a pandemic, working as a rider potentially increases the risks of an already precarious job given the contractual arrangements and the algorithmic control that characterize this gig economy sector. We argue that platforms have generated forms of injustice that are reproduced and amplified by digital platforms encoded in the Global North, which are governed by regulations and optimization criteria that do not dialogue with the precarious reality of Global South cities. Focusing on the case of Santiago de Chile, our analysis draws on the triangulation and complementarity of two instruments: interviews before the COVID-19 pandemic and surveys involving riders during the COVID-19 pandemic. Our findings show that platforms generate specific forms of injustice that affect riders and their mobility in particular. The COVID-19 pandemic worsened such forms of digital injustice, increasing the pressure for constantly working and the exposure of riders to threats such as accidents, criminality and health risks.

Corresponding AuthorGiovanni Vecchio