A Relational Work Perspective on the Gig Economy: Doing Creative Work on Digital Labour Platforms

Ana Alacovska*, Eliane Bucher, Christian Fieseler

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

103 Downloads (Pure)


Based on interviews with 49 visual artists, graphic designers and illustrators working on two leading global digital labour platforms, this article examines how creative workers perform relational work as a means of attenuating labour commodification, precarity, and algorithmic normativity. The article argues that creative work on online labour platforms, rather than being entirely controlled by depersonalised, anonymised and algorithm-driven labour market forces, is also infused in relational infrastructures whose upkeep, solidity and durability depends on the emotional efforts undertaken by workers to match economic transactions and their media of exchange to meaningful client relations. By applying a relational work perspective from economic sociology to the study of platform-mediated gig work, the article elucidates the micro-foundations of creative work in the digital gig economy, including how labour inequalities are produced and reproduced within and around micro-level interpersonal interactions.
Original languageEnglish
JournalWork, Employment and Society
Issue number1
Pages (from-to)161-179
Number of pages19
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2024

Bibliographical note

Published online: 9 Aug 2022.


  • Creative labour
  • Creative work
  • Digital labour platforms
  • Gig economy
  • Gig work
  • Platform work
  • Relational work
  • Visual artists

Cite this