Platform work in municipal contexts: a multi-level governance analysis of Madrid, Milan, and San Francisco

Kriz, Maximilian (2023) Platform work in municipal contexts: a multi-level governance analysis of Madrid, Milan, and San Francisco. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

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This thesis makes an original contribution to the emergent field of platform urbanism by analysing platform work governance in three cities using a multi-level governance framework. Multi-level governance is operationalised in the form of four interrelated indicators; it is used to conduct qualitative policy analysis in Madrid (Spain), Milan (Italy), and San Francisco (USA). The four indicators capture 1. the roles of non-state actors, 2. the relationship between governmental levels regarding platform work, 3. the availability of relevant competences on municipal level, and 4. the involvement of the municipality in the policy debate on platform work. Each indicator raises different questions that guide data collection and analysis as well as the consideration of the contexts within which a municipality responds to platform work. Empirical data is generated from 17 extensive semistructured interviews with 19 local participants from academia, trade unions, and municipal and regional governments – including elite interview participants – and from documentary analysis of 14 municipal policy documents. The thesis produces several significant findings. Above all, multi-level governance generates new evidence on why municipalities govern platform work in distinct ways. Municipal responses in San Francisco and Madrid are influenced by other governmental levels and respective legislation targeting workers’ misclassification as self-employed. The perception of platform work as remedy against poverty by officials in San Francisco and as source of precarity in Madrid reinforces openness and resistance to the phenomenon, respectively. In Milan, tensions between a desire to promote innovative platform services and a commitment to workers’ rights result in municipal engagement with workers and representatives of digital labour platforms. During the Covid-19 pandemic, the recognition of platform work as essential service contributed to a continuation of earlier municipal responses. Moreover, the thesis presents evidence demonstrating the difference between platform governance and platform work governance: city governments often treat platform work differently than other aspects of the platform economy. Altogether, the thesis strongly suggests that even in uncertain regulatory environments, city governments can play a decisive role in mitigating workers’ precarity or promoting platform work.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Additional Information: Supported by funding from the College of Social Sciences, University of Glasgow.
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HV Social pathology. Social and public welfare
Colleges/Schools: College of Social Sciences > School of Social and Political Sciences
Supervisor's Name: Wright, Professor Sharon and Joss, Professor Simon
Date of Award: 2023
Depositing User: Theses Team
Unique ID: glathesis:2023-83687
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 27 Jun 2023 12:36
Last Modified: 27 Jun 2023 12:52

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