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Gig work on the poor people's internet: craigslist's class politics

Authors: Jessa Lingel*, University of Pennsylvania
Topics: Cultural Geography
Keywords: craigslist, gig work, class
Session Type: Paper
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Online for over 20 years, craigslist has witnessed a range of sociotechnical changes regarding work and locality. While popular narratives of craigslist often emphasize quirky personal ads and the pragmatic exchange of used goods, when the company got its start the focus was publicizing local events and job seeking in San Francisco’s tech sector. Overtime, craigslist jobs were less about finding elite tech jobs in San Francisco and more about global participation in the gig economy. While the vast majority of scholarly work on craigslist focuses on online dating (Grov, 2012; Reynolds, 2015; Robinson & Vidal-Ortiz, 2013), this paper uses qualitative interviews with craigslist gig workers to discuss (1) class dynamics of online platforms and (2) craigslist's transformation from the hyper-local to the globally present.
As one of the first platforms to connect internet users to job searching, craigslist is a crucial platform for understanding transformations in platform politics around work and class. During interviews, participants frequently described craigslist as a platform for working class and blue collar internet users. By unpacking participants' associations around the gig economy and assumptions about class, this paper provides a grounded account of how digital structures mediate, augment, and extract value from gig work. As a platform that started locally and now includes over 700 cities across the world, craigslist also documents the push towards global presence, even for platforms that are attuned to the hyper-local.

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