Algorithmized Not Atomized: The Distributed Solidarity of Jakarta’s Gig Workers
This paper explores how gig worker collectivization is given its shape by local context in the case of mobility platform drivers in Jakarta, Indonesia. Under locally specific contextual conditions – traditions of mutual aid developed amidst the longstanding social isolation, exclusion from formal systems, and economic precarity of urban life in the Global South, the way mobility work was previously organized and how that shaped drivers’ thinking, etc. – these drivers have developed a highly emergent form of collectivization which neither the platform technology nor conventional definitions of worker organization could have determined. The drivers have formed kinship groups for resource pooling, rest, socialization, networking, and communal identity, using makeshift basecamps and whatsapp groups to undo and circumvent platform-induced spatial and thus social fragmentation. The paper uses these findings to argue that technological impacts and worker solidarity continue to be mediated and shaped by each local social context to fit its own practices and interests, and that this is especially the case in the Global South, whose urban poor have long been compelled to form emergent, informal, and ingenious collective relationships and collaborations.