Call for Papers: IMISCOE 2023, 3–6 July, Warsaw & online: Migration and the Platform Economy (Paper Session)

18 November 2022

Organisers: Barbara Orth (Free University Berlin) & Isabella Stingl (WZB Berlin Social Science Center)


The gig economy and the spread of platform-mediated service work have attracted considerable academic interest. Many studies find that this kind of work is predominantly performed by migrants and/or racialised minorities. Yet, there is still a need for anaylses that move beyond this empirical reality, and theorise the relationship between migration and the platform economy more thoroughly (cf. Altenried, 2021; Barratt et al., 2020; Lam & Triandafyllidou, 2021; Van Doorn et al., 2022; Zhou, 2022). This session seeks to address this gap by bringing together scholars who explore platform-mediated work within migration studies to situate the phenomenon at the intersection of migration regimes, migrant workers’ individual aspirations and strategies, and the operations of the venture-capital driven platform economy. Taking migrant workers’ experiences as a starting point, we are particularly interested in understanding the role of state-based migration controls in co-constituting platform labour forces, without neglecting migrant workers’ agency in utilising platform-mediated work as part of their broader biographical projects. The session thus contributes to a deeper understanding of an increasingly important labour market segment for migrant workers, which can serve as both a critical infrastructure of arrival/take-off (Van Doorn & Vijay, 2021) and a source of socio-economic precarisation.

We welcome both empirical and theoretical contributions that deal with these and related issues.

Possible topics may include but are not limited to:
• the role of migration policies and socio-legal status in directing migrant workers towards platform-mediated work
• the ways in which migrant workers make use of platform-mediated work as part of their migratory projects, as well as the benefits and limits of thinking platforms through the concepts of infrastructures of arrival (Meeus et al., 2019)/migration infrastructures (Xiang & Lindquist, 2014)
• the role of diaspora communities and transnational ties for migrant workers’ decision to engage in platform-mediated work
• the heterogeneity of migrant workers performing platform-mediated work and how their differential positioning in terms of race, class, age, gender, ability, and legal status fosters specific im/mobilities and modes of in/exclusion
• migrant workers’ experiences in segments of the platform economy that have thus far received less public/academic attention, such as care and cleaning services as well as infrastructural support roles such as relocating carsharing vehicles

Please send a short abstract of up to 250 words (including name, affiliation, and contact details) to Barbara Orth (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.) and Isabella Stingl (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.) by
November 30, 2022. Please indicate whether you prefer to participate in person or virtually.

Based on your preferences, we decide whether the session will take place fully on-site or fully online. Participants will be notified about whether their paper will be submitted as part of this panel
by December 2, 2022.

Works cited:
Altenried, M. (2021). Mobile workers, contingent labour: Migration, the gig economy and the multiplication of labour’, Environment and Planning A: Economy and Space, 0(0).
Barratt, T., Goods, C. & Veen, A. (2020). “I’m my own boss…”: Active intermediation and,“entrepreneurial” worker agency in the Australian gig-economy, Environment and Planning A: Economy
and Space, 52(8), 1643–1661.
Lam, L. & Triandafyllidou, A. (2021). An unlikely stepping stone? Exploring how platform work shapes newcomer migrant integration, Transitions: Journal of Transient Migration, 5(1), 11–29.
Meeus, B., van Heur, B., & Arnaut, K. (2019). Migration and the Infrastructural Politics of Urban Arrival. In B. Meeus, K. Arnaut & B. van Heur (eds.), Arrival Infrastructures. Migration and Urban Social Mobilities. Cham: Palgrave Macmillan/Springer, 1–32.
Van Doorn, N., Ferrari, F. and Graham, M. (2022). Migration and Migrant Labour in the Gig Economy: An Intervention, Work, Employment and Society, 0(0).
Van Doorn, N., & Vijay, D. (2021). Gig work as migrant work: The platformization of migration infrastructure, Environment and Planning A: Economy and Space, 0(0).
Xiang, B., & Lindquist, J. (2014). Migration Infrastructure, International Migration Review, 48(1), 122–148.
Zhou, Y. (2022). Trapped in the platform: Migration and precarity in China’s platform-based gig economy, Environment and Planning A: Economy and Space, 0(0).

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