Communication Inequality and the Technopolitical Structure of Platform Work: Aotearoa New Zealand Platform Workers During COVID-19

Leon A. Salter, Mohan J. Dutta


Drawing on the culture-centered approach (CCA), we conducted 25 in-depth interviews with Aotearoa New Zealand rideshare and delivery drivers, demonstrating how the technopolitical structure of platform work intensified communication inequality, and resultingly, precarity, during the COVID-19 crisis. Although literature has recognized that the platform has become the place of employment, less researched is how this makes it the place of information distribution, handing power to the platform operators, while contributing to the precarity of platform workers. The concept of communication inequality has been underapplied to considering the intersections between the structure of platform work and worker precarity. A thematic analysis concentrates on 4 key themes linked to the centralization of information flows through the platform architecture: information restriction, indirect management, unilateral term-setting, and accentuated precarity. We conclude by arguing for more research on platform work from a communication perspective that foregrounds the voices of workers.


platform work, gig economy, precarity, Uber, communication inequality, voice, COVID-19, Culture-Centered Approach (CCA)

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