Digital Labor in the Philippines: Three Forms of Brokerage

Dr Cheryll Soriano3

3De La Salle University, Manila, The Philippines

Drawing on experience of platform labor in the Philippines, one of the largest labor supplying countries, the paper demonstrates how online workers deploy local conditions and historical communicative assemblage to survive or even thrive in the emerging digital labor market. I first explore how local conditions, including State labor and ICT policies, as well as social and economic structures are implicated in shaping the development of the online labor market that is increasingly mediated and managed by global digital platforms. The paper then examines and theorizes the relationships across three distinct forms of labor brokerage emerging in the digital platform labor economy that operate at global and local levels: the digital labor platform, skill-makers, and worker-agents. Against the glocalization of the digital labor market, I pay special attention to how job opportunity, skills, networks, communities, and tools of counter-action and survival, among others, have shifted for digital workers, as well as the role and implications for the neoliberal State in these shifts. The presentation seeks to contribute to the knowledge about the digital work system by capturing the situated dialectic power relations of the global spread of platform-mediated labor management.


Cheryll Ruth Soriano, PhD is Associate Professor in the Department of Communication, De La Salle University Manila. Her research focuses on the intersections of digital cultures, marginality, technology policy, and civic engagement in Asia and has published articles and book chapters on these themes. Cheryll currently co-leads a project on digital labor, as well as on YouTube and the brokerage of social transactions, in the Philippines. She co-authored the book, Asian Perspectives on Digital Cultures: Emerging Phenomena, Enduring Concepts. Cheryll has held Visiting Research Fellowships at the Centre for Communication, Politics and Culture in RMIT University and at the Institute of Sociology and Anthropology in Peking University.


The Asian Studies Association of Australia (ASAA) is the peak body of university experts and educators on Asia in Australia. Established in 1976, we promote and support the study of Asia in Australian universities and knowledge of Asia among the broader community. Our membership is drawn mainly from academics and students, but also includes industry and government Asia experts. We take a strong interest in promoting knowledge about Asia in schools and in contributing to state and Commonwealth government policies related to Asia. We provide informed comment on Asia to a broad public through our bulletin, Asian Currents, and specialist research articles in our journal, Asian Studies Review. Four book series published under our auspices cover Southeast Asia, South Asia, East Asia and Women in Asia.

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