Performing “digital labor bayanihan”: strategies of influence and survival in the platform economy

Cheryll Ruth R. Soriano, Earvin Charles Cabalquinto, Joy Hannah Panaligan

Resumo


Drawing from experience of platform labor in one of the largest labor supplying countries, the Philippines, the paper demonstrates the role of an emerging labor category – that of digital labor influencers – who promote the viability of platform labor locally amid its precarious and ambiguous conditions. Through participant observation in Facebook groups, analysis of YouTube channels and videos, and interviews with digital labor influencers and workers, we present insights into the interventions that these influencers use, anchoring their strategies on what we call performing “digital labor bayanihan”: (a) coaching workers on the “possibilities” of the platform economy and on how to navigate its structural ambiguities, (b) by acting as “agencies”, they aid workers to span boundaries and fluidly move across platforms and job types to mitigate labor arbitrage and labor seasonality; and (c) bridging geographically dispersed workers, which allow them to form a supportive space where opportunities for labor are exchanged and debated. We argue that these affective strategies attend to Filipino workers’ labor aspirations through a community-oriented strategy encapsulated in a distinct Filipino cultural value bayanihan, which then shapes the collective “anchoring” of platform workers to navigate a precarious market. We explore the transactional nature underlying this “producer-audience” relationship, the activation of trust and influence through personalized practices and mediated encounters, and the power dynamic underlying these engagements. The paper shows that these strategies also set norms and standards in this largely unregulated sector, playing a role in how labor mobility or precarity are organized locally amid “planetary labor markets”.


Palavras-chave


platform labor; digital labor; crowdwork; intermediation; influencer economy; microcelebrity; Philippines

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.1590/15174522-113027

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