Monday, August 13, 2018

Gigged (Sarah Kessler)

Sarah Kessler’s Gigged is all about the changing job landscape and the rise of what is termed the “Gig Economy.” If you have utilized Uber, hired someone to do a task on Upworthy or Taskrabbit or employed a local pet sitter, chances are you have encountered someone who works (and lives) in a gig-based job. Kessler tackles the rise of the gig from a Silicon Valley and New York City dominant perspective and shares insights into the challenges and pitfalls it has on many workers throughout the country.

Much of Gigged discusses the rise of several different organizations - Uber, Managed By Q, Taskrabbit, and Mechanical Turk - and the individuals that were contracted out by these companies or involved in their beginning. Each story uniquely captures the successes and failures of the gig world, showing how, for the few who made it work, there were many others who struggled or fell further behind in the rat race of the 21st Century economy. The stories largely center on big city America, venturing slightly into the heartland for one rural take. They also range from deep inside the company to the driver on the street - all showing the reality of many workers who are struggling to adjust to the changing employer-employee relationship.

Kessler employs a lot of political commentary. In today's charged political atmosphere, there were points that didn't seem beneficial regarding employment in the 21st Century. Some topics (such as the decline in union participation) were important to talk about. Personal opinions on politicians and weaving in the topic of privilege were not. Another missed opportunity was the gradual (and increasing) role that part-time work had in such sectors as retail and hospitality prior to the development of the gig economy. While Gigged provides a solid analysis of the rise of gig work and the struggles workers face, it missed the mark in a few key areas.