Crowdwork and the Mobile Underclass: Barriers to Participation in India and the United States
Journal article, Peer reviewed
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- Scientific articles 
Original versionNew Media & Society. 2021;23(6):1341-1361 10.1177/1461444820901847
Online crowdwork platforms have been praised as powerful vehicles for economic development, particularly for workers traditionally excluded from the labor market. However, there has been insufficient scrutiny as to the feasibility of crowdwork as an income-source among socio-economically deprived populations. This paper examines device requirements and differential access to digital infrastructure, both of which act as potential barriers to not only basic participation but also to economic success online. Given the increasing prevalence of mobile-first and mobile-only populations, research on this topic aids in understanding the crowdwork ecosystem among differing socio-economic sectors. Based on a survey of 606 crowd workers across the United States and India, this paper uses both quantitative and qualitative data to explore whether reliance on mobile devices is detrimental for economic outcomes of crowdwork. The results point to substantial inequalities in device use and received benefits from crowdwork, within each country and between the two contexts.