The Gig Economy and Digital Outsourcing

Our research in this area explores impacts of the ‘gig economy’ and digital outsourcing for workers, businesses, and virtual production networks in Sub-Saharan Africa.

We do this by interviewing and surveying online freelancers, call/contact centre workers, and digital business owners in South Africa, Kenya, Nigeria, and Ghana.

This will help us to better understand whether new digital practices taking root in Sub-Saharan Africa offer a significant departure from previous opportunities that have been available to people, or whether we are simply seeing new forms of exploitation now made possible by efficient communication technologies.


Graham, M., Hjorth, I., Lehdonvirta, V. 2017. Digital labour and development: impacts of global digital labour platforms and the gig economy on worker livelihoods. Transfer: European Review of Labour and Research.

Graham, M., Lehdonvirta, V., Wood, A., Barnard, H., Hjorth, I., and Simon, D. P. The Risks and Rewards of Online Gig Work At the Global Margins. Oxford: Oxford Internet Institute.

Graham, M. and Wood, A. 2017. How to resist the exploitation of digital gig workersRed Pepper. Apr 14, 2017

Graham, M. 2016. Let’s make platform capitalism more accountableNew Internationalist. Dec 13, 2016

Graham, M. and Wood, A. 2016. Why the digital gig economy needs co-ops and unions. openDemocracy. Sept 15, 2016

Graham, M. 2016. Digital work marketplaces impose a new balance of power. New Internationalist.May 25, 2016

Graham, M. 2016. Organising the Digital “Wild West”: Can Strategic Bottlenecks Help Prevent a Race to the Bottom for Online Workers? Union Solidarity International. May 11, 2016 (also translated into Turkish)

Graham, M. 2016. Digital Work and the Global Precariat. Union Solidarity International. Mar 30, 2016

Graham, M. 2015. Digital Work Signals a Global Race to the Bottom. SciDevNet Sept 15, 2015

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