Professor Scott Schieman recently co-authored a piece entitled, “Workers in the gig economy feel lonely and powerless,” in The Conversation. The article discusses findings from a study that Schieman conducted with co-investigators Professor Paul Glavin from McMaster University, and Professor Alex Bierman from the University of Calgary.
Based on a survey of over 2,000 working Canadians, the study found that individuals in the gig economy are more likely than people in regular employment to suffer from both loneliness and feelings of powerlessness.
The full article is available here. I have posted an excerpt below.
Workers in the gig economy feel lonely and powerless
The gig economy is quickly becoming a central part of Canadian life. The jobs aren’t just limited to Uber and Skip the Dishes. Grocery stores, laundries and more are banking on a new workforce that will accept jobs on a per-task basis.
Even a hallmark of Canadian life — snow-shovelling — is being absorbed into the gig economy. A recent startup in Calgary lets homeowners hire shovellers using their smartphones.
As sociologists, we envision a decentralized workforce, bereft of regular human contact or continuous employment. Yet this outlook stands in stark contrast to optimistic portrayals of a flexible economy that empowers workers to control their own fates. Which narrative — decentralized and isolated or connected and empowered — best reflects the reality of Canada’s gig workers?
It turns out that separating the hype from reality about the Canadian gig economy is no easy task, given the dearth of available data on gig workers.
One in five workers in gig economy
We therefore set out to conduct surveys with a representative slice of the Canadian employed population — gig and non-gig workers — as part of the 2019 Canadian Quality of Work and Economic Life Study. Our preliminary findings, as yet unpublished, are the result of interviews with 2,524 working Canadians from this study.