Open Access Journal

ISSN: 2183-2803

Article | Open Access

Sociological Types of Precarity Among Gig Workers: Lived Experiences of Food Delivery Workers in Riga

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Abstract:  In this article, we examine the lived experiences of precariousness in gig work, a growing sector of the modern labor market, through the case of Latvia, a former Soviet republic that has experienced radical neo‐liberalization over the last 30 years. Many studies, mainly focusing on the Global North, have demonstrated precarious aspects of gig work—its short‐term engagements, the lack of legal protection and social benefits, and algorithmic management as an autonomy‐limiting control mechanism. Given the precarious nature of gig work, we examine why people engage in it. Building on literature that distinguishes precarity as a condition and precariousness as a subjective experience, we analyze reasons for engaging in gig work in Latvia. We identify five types of gig workers based on 56 in‐depth interviews with food delivery gig workers in Riga, the capital of Latvia. We analyze differences in our respondents’ motivations for choosing this work, their position, and historical mobility in the social structure. Based on this analysis, we find three factors that serve as a basis for a typology of food delivery workers in Riga: gig workers’ view of gig work as a temporary vs. a long‐term engagement, the breadth of perceived opportunities available, and their emotional satisfaction with the job. We discuss how these findings compare with other studies on gig work and gig workers’ subjective experiences.

Keywords:  Eastern Europe; gig economy; gig work; Latvia; neoliberalism; platforms; precariousness; precarity

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.17645/si.7696


© Iveta Ķešāne, Maija Spuriņa. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0), which permits any use, distribution, and reproduction of the work without further permission provided the original author(s) and source are credited.