Crowdworkers, social affirmation and work identity: Rethinking dominant assumptions of crowdwork

Ayomikun Idowu, Amany Elbanna

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

41 Downloads (Pure)


Crowdwork is becoming increasingly popular as shown by its rapid growth. It is a new way of working that is conducted through global digital platforms where money is exchanged for services provided online. As it is digitally grounded, it has been assumed to be context-free, uniform and consisting of a simple exchange of tasks/labour from a global workforce for direct monetary pay. In this study, we examine these, largely Western, assumptions from crowdworkers’ perspective and turn to a non-Western context to destabilise them. We adopt an inductive research approach using multiple sources of qualitative data including interviews, participant observations, docu- ments review, observation of social media chat rooms and online forums. The study reveals that as they lack organisational, occupational and professional context and referent, crowdworkers rely on social affirmation in the construction of their work identity. They construct a work identity of who they are that cuts across the boundaries between themselves, the digital work they do and their social environment. This constructed work identity then frames how they do crowdwork and their relationships with digital platforms and employers. This study advances theories about crowdwork by showing that it is not context free, neither it is a simple exchange of labour. Further, it shows that the construction of a crowdwork identity in context plays a sig- nificant role in shaping the way this digitally-grounded work is conducted and managed.
Original languageEnglish
Article number100335
JournalInformation and Organization
Early online date2 May 2021
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2021


  • Crowdwork
  • Gig economy
  • Crowdsourcing
  • Work identity
  • new ways of working
  • Digital Labour
  • Digital platforms
  • Nigeria
  • Africa
  • Decolonisation
  • freelancing
  • elancing
  • gig work

Cite this