Freelancing on an Online Market Place: Exploring Freelance Work Practices in the Context of Digitized Regulation Mechanisms

Tuesday, 17 July 2018: 18:30
Oral Presentation
Barbara FERSCH, University of Southern Denmark, Denmark
Freelancing on an online market place: Exploring freelance work practices in the context of digitized regulation mechanisms

In the last couple of years freelancing on crowdsourcing based online marketplaces has become increasingly common. This paper provides an in-depth look at the practices of freelancers at one of these marketplaces, fiverr.com. Here a very broad range of services in the cultural field is offered, such as translation, writing, design and video animation. The emerging field of research on online freelance labor markets emphasizes the importance of digital reputation based ranking systems (“reputation economy”) and algorithms (e.g. Gandini 2016) as digitized regulation mechanisms (instead of strongly network based modes of working in “offline” freelancing (e.g. Neff 2005, Fersch 2008)). In this context, what practices do the freelancers apply to handle the relatively anonymous customers in the low-trust context of a global online market place? Which strategies do they use to earn money and sell services in a sustainable way? The paper aims to contribute to a deeper understanding of these new forms of work practices. Empirically it is based on an analysis of chosen relevant forum threads of the very lively forum of fiverr.com and observations.