Wing-Fai Leung: Freelancing globally: Upworkers in China and India, neoliberalisation, and the new international division of labour


05 February 2019, 10:00


Trainee centre 3.40, Vodární 6


This talk presents a comparative study of Chinese and Indian freelancers who use the global crowdsourcing platform Upwork. It is the result of research conducted in collaboration with Professors Premilla D’Cruz and Ernesto Noronha of the Indian Institute of Management Ahmedabad.  In this lecture, Dr. Leung examines (a) how the workforces in developing economies experience these platforms, and (b) how their participation in the global digital platform economy can be understood through their specific national contexts. The data indicate that both Chinese and Indian freelancers are relatively young and highly educated, and they consider the digital platform as an opportunity to work with international clients and hone their skills, while they often suffer discrimination by virtue of their geographical locations. The notions of self-realisation and entrepreneurialism are evident in China and India as a result of neoliberal and global influences. Platforms such as Upwork engender the individualisation of the labour force, perceived as empowerment while absorbing the freelancers into a new capitalist logic in which the gig economy exports precarity through the new international division of labour.