Gigged | Sarah Kessler

Summary of: Gigged: The Gig Economy, the End of the Job and the Future of Work
By: Sarah Kessler


In Sarah Kessler’s insightful book, ‘Gigged: The Gig Economy, the End of the Job and the Future of Work,’ readers can anticipate an in-depth exploration into the fast-growing gig economy and its wide-ranging effects on both skilled and unskilled labor. Beginning with the origin of Uber and its low-cost model, Kessler traces the rapid emergence of new platforms such as Upwork, Mechanical Turk, and Handy, reshaping the workforce. However, she exposes the stark inequality: while those with high-demand skills find abundant opportunities, workers possessing more common abilities struggle to make a living.

The Gig Economy’s Effect

Sarah Kessler analyzes the gig economy and its impact in Gigged, a well-researched and insightful book. With an impressive understanding of the gig economy from a journalistic perspective, Kessler demonstrates how the gig economy affects both workers and the economy, including issues of income instability and worker exploitation. Kessler’s thoughtful analysis of the future of work is a must-read for anyone interested in this rapidly changing landscape, according to Dan Lyons, author of Disrupted. Gigged provides valuable insights for both gig workers and anyone curious about the evolution of work in the modern age.

Uber’s Genius and the Rise of the Gig Economy

The book explores how Uber disrupted the traditional ride-hailing industry through its low-cost model that offered potential for unlimited expansion. By classifying drivers as independent contractors, Uber sidestepped the responsibilities of offering benefits, sick days, or holidays. This led to the rise of the gig economy, a potential solution to the problem of joblessness. The gig economy quickly evolved, offering services such as housekeeping, massages, and grocery shopping, and new platforms like Upwork, Mechanical Turk, and Handy helped people find work. Between 2012 and 2015, the number of adults earning in the on-demand economy increased 47-fold, accounting for about 4% of the US workforce.

The Tragedy of the Gig Economy

Kessler uncovers the harsh reality of the gig economy; high-demand skills result in high income, while those with common abilities work jobs with no substantial benefits. Platforms like Upwork are no different from traditional job applications, filled with discrimination and inequality. Employers seek the cheapest source of labor, whereas employees are hesitant to categorize contractors as employees. Any misallocation invites investigations and lawsuits resulting in no clear villain.

The Dark Side of the Gig Economy

The gig economy is rife with unfair practices, and Adam Kessler’s book “The People’s Platform” sheds light on these issues using the experiences of gig workers. The book scrutinizes the workings of a gig economy giant, Amazon and its platform Mechanical Turk, which pays Mechanical Turkers less than the minimum wage. Kessler introduces the story of Kristy Milland, who founded the Dynamo platform to protect Mechanical Turkers’ rights. However, in swift action, Amazon shut it down, citing its terms of service. Kessler also highlights Trebor Scholz’s model of platform cooperatives, where collective ownership helps share the profits more equitably among members. To pursue this idea, Kessler cites a stock photo supplier, Stocksy, which shares a percentage of earnings with its members, who are also the owners. Kessler ends by emphasizing workers’ rights and urges gig economy companies to consider human aspects such as trauma, hopelessness, and chronic unemployment.

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