‘If He Just Knew Who We Were’: Microworkers’ Emerging Bonds of Attachment in a Fragmented Employment Relationship

Niki Panteli, Andriana Rapti, Dora Scholarios

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Using the lens of attachment, we explore microworkers’ views of their employment relationship. Microwork comprises short-term, task-focused exchanges with large numbers of end-users (requesters), implying transitory and transactional relationships. Other key parties, however, include the platform which digitally meditates worker-requester relationships and the online microworker community. We explore the nature of attachment with these parties and the implications for microworkers’ employment experiences. Using data from a workers’ campaign directed at Amazon Mechanical Turk and CEO Jeff Bezos, we demonstrate multiple, dynamic bonds, primarily, acquiescence and instrumental bonds towards requesters and the platform, and identification with the online community. Microworkers also expressed dedication towards the platform. We consider how attachment buffers the exploitative employment relationship and how community bonds mobilise collective worker voice.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)476-494
Number of pages19
JournalWork, Employment & Society
Issue number3
Early online date27 Jan 2020
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2020

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