18-20 August 2022

Towards mobilizational praxis: Emerging forms of organizing among platform workers in Southeast Asia

Kriangsak Teerakowitkajorn & Tyler Esch (Just Economy and Labour Institute, Thailand)

Abstract:The emergence of digital platforms practically deregulated employment relations and disrupted economies across the globe in a short period of time, including economies in Southeast Asia. The rise in collective actions among platform workers demonstrates an active response to the felt consequences of financial and physical insecurity, on the one hand, and the agency of workers to better working conditions and employment contexts on the other hand. Such acts reveal that workers have not consented to domination in their daily work. Most scholarship on these issues is focused on the global North, and thus have limited value for researcher-activists working in the global South who want to assist workers’ initiatives to organize and mobilize. This paper attempts to take stock of the fast-growing literature on platform workers’ activism and identify common themes. This paper explores the literature on Southeast Asian platform workers by surveying the antagonisms that catalyse action by workers, the collective actions taken by workers, and the responses given to these actions by platforms, customers, and states. Special attention is placed on questions related to the collective processes of organizing and mobilizing. Furthermore, this paper will use the conference space to solicit thoughts and ideas for potential solutions.


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