Mutualism, class composition, and the reshaping of worker organisation in platform work and the gig economy
This article contributes an understanding of mutualism as a foundational element in emergent worker collectivism. We challenge mainstream institutionalist accounts in industrial relations, especially from the Global North, that downplay processes of bottom-up regeneration of working-class organisation. We discuss compositional accounts of class formation and examine previous understandings of mutualism, then apply our conceptual framework to evidence from international literature and our own research on platform work in Italy and the UK. Three important themes emerge in understanding worker self-organisation: the demographics of the workforce, including migration backgrounds and social ties beyond the workplace; the existence of social relations in the ethnic/political/local community; and the relevance of free spaces of resource sharing and recomposition in the absence of a fixed place of work. We conclude that an understanding of mutualism can help to grasp emergent solidarities among new groups of workers within and beyond both platform work and trade unions.
Global Labour Journal's authors grant the journal permission to publish, but they retain copyright of their manuscripts. The Global Labour Journal applies a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivatives 4.0 International License.
Under the terms of this licensing framework anyone is free to share, copy, distribute and transmit the work, under the following conditions:
- Attribution: You must attribute the work in the manner specified by the author or licensor (but not in any way that suggests that they endorse you or your use of the work).
- Noncommercial Use: You may not use this work for commercial purposes.
- No Derivative Works: You may not alter, transform, or build upon this work.
For any reuse or distribution, you must make clear to others the license terms of this work.
Any of the above conditions can be waived if you get permission from the copyright holder, the author of the piece. The author's moral rights are retained in this license.