PW’s picks highlight the not-be-missed indie releases of the season, across many genres and audiences. Their selection shows the timeliness of After the Gig, as an examination of the gig economy in a time where the covid-pandemic has spotlighted the extent of labor exploitation and much-needed protections for those working gigs.
In the book, acclaimed economist and sociologist Juliet B. Schor delves into the failed promise of the gig economy and how we can win it back for the workers.
When the “sharing economy” launched a decade ago, proponents claimed that it would transform the experience of work—giving earners flexibility, autonomy, and a decent income. It was touted as a cure for social isolation and rampant ecological degradation. But this novel form of work soon sprouted a dark side: exploited Uber drivers, neighborhoods ruined by Airbnb, racial discrimination, and rising carbon emissions. Several of the most prominent platforms are now faced with existential crises as they prioritize growth over fairness and long-term viability.
Nevertheless, the basic model—a peer-to-peer structure augmented by digital tech—holds the potential to meet its original promises. Based on nearly a decade of pioneering research, After the Gig dives into what went wrong with this contemporary reimagining of labor. Schor presents a compelling argument that we can engineer a reboot: through regulatory reforms and cooperative platforms owned and controlled by users, an equitable and truly shared economy is still possible.
From Publishers Weekly: PW’s review said the book “punctures the hype surrounding the ‘sharing economy’ ” and that Schor “backs her claims with detailed evidence, and identifies specific, actionable reforms,” concluding, “This incisive account makes a perplexing subject easier to grasp.”