Exploring Inequalities in Platform-Based Legal Work

Howcroft, D., Mumford, C., Bergvall-Kåreborn, B. (2020) Chapter 5 in Experiencing the New World of Work, Cambridge University Press

The aim of this chapter is to examine the neglected area of platform work and inequalities. Drawing on Acker’s theoretical frame of inequality regimes, this study investigates whether platform work reproduces and/or augments inequalities. Extant research on platforms has focused predominantly on lesser-skilled work based on repetitive transactions; in contrast, we explore experiences of higher-skilled work, specifically the provision of legal services. A qualitative approach was adopted based on participants using the People Per Hour (PPH) platform, which offers high-skilled professional services targeted at the small-business market. The study is situated in the context of structural disadvantages in the legal profession. Our findings show that persistent inequalities within the offline legal profession are not simply mirrored, but amplified in platform work, contesting any optimistic claims that platform work has the potential to act as a leveller.

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