Examining Crowdwork as a Source of Sustainable Employment: A Study of Institutionalisation, Identity Construction and Career Development Experience of Crowdworkers in Nigeria.

Ayomikun Idowu

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis


Work and Employment is a critical area that is passing through significant change influenced by widespread connectivity to the Internet and the rise of digital platforms. Crowdwork is one of the emerging new ways of working that is witnessing exponential growth, this has encouraged government and international agencies to consider it an alternative route for employment that could extend employment opportunities beyond national geography and regional barriers. Employment on digital platforms is by its nature short-term and precarious, but with increasing adoption of crowdwork as a model of fulltime long-term employment by some crowdworkers, there is need to understand this phenomenon.

This study explores the lived experience of crowdworkers, it does so in the context of a developing country in Africa; Nigeria, where international organisations and governments particularly find it holding potentials to reduce the serious unemployment problems in these countries. An inductive research approach was adopted, employing multiple sources of qualitative data to uncover the crowdworkers’ perspective. This study is analysed through three theoretical lenses i.e. institutional work, social identity theory and career development theory.

The lens of institutional work helped to explore workers practices in achieving long-term income sustainability and employment in adopting crowdwork as a fulltime employment. Through the theoretical lens of institutional work, this study shows five interlinked strategies engaged in by crowdworkers that mediate between the constrains of existing crowdwork institutions and in creating a sustainable crowdwork employment. Social identity theory provided a basis to analyse crowdworkers perception of themselves and their work in relation to their social environment. This revealed that with the lack of organisational, occupational and professional context and referent in crowdwork, crowdworkers in Nigeria rely on social affirmation in the construction of their work identity and construct a work identity of who they are that cuts across the boundaries between themselves, the digital work they do and their social environment. Career development theory helped to understand how crowdworkers conduct their work, organise their lives in order to find a future and progress in crowdwork. the study unravels that crowdworkers craft what could be conceptualised as a career development path. It identifies five stages in this career path and workers efforts to mould their work demands and job-related resources to create a future for themselves.
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Royal Holloway, University of London
  • Elbanna, Amany, Supervisor
  • Harindranath, G 'Hari', Advisor
Publication statusUnpublished - 2020

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