Our researchThe digital economy, gender and precarious work

Over the last twenty years the character of precarious employment has become a topic of increasing concern amongst employees, labour unions, policy makers and researchers.

While there remains stable, long term employment for the majority of workers in many countries, contingency, informal and insecure employment is and has been the norm for most of the world’s labour market.

Everywhere, ‘stable’ employment co-exists with increasing numbers of casualised, contingent or agency workers and the persistent undervaluing of caring work. Furthermore, there is evidence that many aspects of the work experiences of those without long term contracts are increasingly a feature of permanent employees so that insecurity is an increasingly felt across the economy.

New IT applications and platforms driving the rise of the 'gig' economy are transforming how work is organised and experienced. How contemporary dimensions of precarious work are being understood, experienced and negotiated by academics, students and workers in sites across the globe are the focus of this theme.


Current projects

Precarious work in Scotland – an intersectional perspective

Although employment rates are at a record high in Scotland there have been many campaigns highlighting that the precarious ways of working can be seriously inflexible for the employee, or can be used as tools of further exploitation and control by the employer.

With wages stagnating, it's clear that the employment rate alone is not a good indicator of the health of Scotland’s labour market. In order to address this imbalance, this project will highlight the landscape of precarious work, map actions and struggles, but also the subjective experiences of precarious working lives and discrimination.


Scottish Trades Union Council including:


Over the last decade, we saw the renaissance of the student worker. With a minimum wage gap that sees workers under 21 being paid £1,90 less than their co-workers aged above 25, the retail and hospitality sector in Scotland now targets students as ‘cheap labour’. Zero hours contracts act as a tool to attract students due to the flexibility they provide. They also increase exploitation at work.

Together with the Better Than Zero campaign, students and staff at University of Strathclyde and University of Glasgow, National Union of Students and Living Rent campiagn we currently collaborate with students in creating ‘student hubs’.The hubs aim to inform students about their rights at work, seeks to  raise awareness about the composition of labour markets, the role they are playing, and how to organise within a company under precarious working conditions.