Platform work in the domestic and home care sector: new mechanisms of invisibility and exploitation of women migrant workers
The platform economy is conquering the domestic work and home care sector in countries of the global North as a response to the scarcity of affordable quality care services. Based on in-depth interviews with workers, firms and stakeholders, the objective of our study is to unravel the new mechanisms of exploitation and invisibility of this reproductive work, carried out mainly by migrant women from the Global south. This article deploys a feminist political economy approach to assess the new inequalities created by the intrusion of platform capitalism in the social reproduction sphere. Our study shows how the platform labour model fits perfectly in an informal and devalued care sector with a large labour supply composed of migrant women from the global South. Digital platforms take advantage of inequalities of gender, race, and immigration status to access a precarious workforce. The low reservation wage and lack of agency of migrant women, who are denied access to other sources of income and formal employment, act as key elements in the advancement of the mechanisms of exploitation and exclusion. Though care platforms facilitate access to work by migrant women, their working conditions are characteried by precarity, lack of access to social protection and unemployment benefits. Our results confirm that digital platforms have reinforced the ‘casualisation’ of labour markets, gendered segregation and subjugation in labour markets.
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