Platforms are changing things

How Platforms and Livelihoods Connect



When people rely on platforms to match their labor to compensation outside the contexts (and any protections) of employer-employee relationships, they're earning a platform livelihood.



When people or small businesses offer products and services to customers through marketplace platforms (think Amazon) and/or through social media, they're earning a platform livelihood.



When people lend or lease an asset such as a tractor or truck by the hour or day, or offer a room of their house on Airbnb, or lend (rent) money on peer-to-peer loan platforms, they're earning a platform livelihood.



When Instagram influencers, YouTube and TikTok content creators, and affiliate marketers get paid for bringing attention to content (or to the ads alongside that content), they're earning a platform livelihood.

“Platforms” and “livelihoods,” when combined, refer to more than gig work. The broad umbrella of platform livelihoods suggests that there are many ways to earn a living and many ways in which platforms are becoming involved. Therefore, we focus on what people do rather than on what platforms provide

And what people do is work, trade, rent and create.  

This view of “many livelihoods” touches almost every sector of the economy. Indeed, many familiar roles are actually combinations of these four activities. Take, for example, the ride-hailing driver who owns their car, drives nine hours a day via two different platforms, and rents their vehicle to another driver in the evenings. Their efforts are better understood as a combination of renting (assets) and working (labor) rather than labor alone. In this view, it is best to avoid assuming that people are exclusively renters or traders or engagers; instead, many will combine these practices in distinct ways to pursue their distinct livelihoods. 

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