App food-delivery workers in Brazil communicate and interpret their experiences of digital work on social media

Authors: Caio Sena, Federal University of Goiás, Ricardo Barbosa*, University of Calgary
Topics: Food Systems, Political Geography, Urban Geography
Keywords: digital work, food-delivery, social media, platform capitalism, Brazil
Session Type: Virtual Paper
Day: 4/11/2021
Start / End Time: 8:00 AM / 9:15 AM
Room: Virtual 34
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


This article makes the case for evaluating the experience of digital work through digital workers’ social media-use. As the gig economy expands in Brazil (Pigatto Gessuir et al. 2017), multiple app food-delivery workers (AFDW) have taken to social media where they gained a following. We add to the literature on the experiences of AFDW (Cant 2019; Veen, Barratt, and Goods 2019) by asking: In what ways and to what extent do AFDW in Brazil communicate and interpret their experiences of digital work on social media? Our premise is that by analyzing AFDW’s social media-use we are able to gain further insight into the notoriously vailed ‘black box’ of platform capitalism (Fields, Bissell, and Macrorie 2020). To identify the main narratives created through AFDW’s social media-use we immerse ourselves in digital environments by carryout digital ethnography (Murthy 2008), discourse analysis of long-form testimonials on YouTube (Sartoretto 2016), and supplementary research data collection of digital platforms’ response on Reclame Aqui (Burns and Wark 2019). On social media, AFDW divulge problems related to their work and create mutual-support networks with other digital workers. This way, AFDW are no longer mere ‘data producers’ for digital platforms. In sharing their lived experiences on social media, AFDW conjure narratives that challenge those created by the digital platforms for which they work. Thus, producing knowledge that discloses the vailed realities of digital work(ers) (Barratt, Goods, and Veen 2020), which challenges established gig economy relations wherein the platform is the only one with power and voice (Graham 2020)

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