DOI: 10.1177/0308518x231191933 ISSN:

Stratified pathways into platform work: Migration trajectories and skills in Berlin’s gig economy

Barbara Orth
  • Environmental Science (miscellaneous)
  • Geography, Planning and Development

Platform labour scholars have noted the prevalence of migrant workers in the gig economy. This paper builds on this research but interrogates the broad concept of ‘migrant labour’. The study draws on biographical interviews with platform workers in grocery delivery and domestic work platforms in Berlin, Germany as well as expert interviews with union representatives, migrant organisations and white-collar platform company employees. Through an examination of the mobility strategies of platform workers in this subset of the platform economy, the study reveals a stratification of migrant trajectories and of skills needed to engage in platform work across different types of labour platforms. The study finds that platform companies draw on a workforce that consists of recently arrived young migrants with comparatively high education, language skills and digital literacy. Through close analysis of an understudied section of the gig economy, the paper contributes to the ongoing theorisation of the nexus of migration regimes and platform-mediated labour regimes. The findings complicate the notion of ‘accessibility’ of platform work and call for the inclusion of visa regimes, immigration categories and particular skill sets in future research on platform labour.

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