Reproducing Precarity: Neoliberal Reconfiguration of Work Practices in Indonesian Apps-Enabled Ride-Hailing Service

Diatyka Widya Permata Yasih5

5Department of Sociology, Universitas Indonesia, and Asia Institute,  University of Melbourne and, , Australia

The rise of the “gig” economy – businesses relying on flexible workforces to deliver various services via apps – has transformed patterns of work in different ways. In advanced economies in the West and of East Asian countries, gig economy expands in a context where stable employment relationship used to be standard; while in middle-income economies, precarious work has long been normalized. By taking the case of urban situations in Jakarta, the paper examines the effect of the reconfiguration of work practices brought by GoJek and Grab – South East Asian start-up darlings – on workers experience and identity. The paper argues that the apps-enabled ride-hailing service exposes workers to a distinct form of precarious work, where the digitized control over work process sustain the illusion of workers flexibility and autonomy. The expansion of the business model is conditioned by and in return reproduces workers’ preferences for and desires to act as the neoliberal entrepreneur-self, amidst the pervasiveness of the informal sector and the inadequacy of the social protection system. Despite discontentment over working conditions, workers accept the logic of competition and inequality as the organizing principle of the society, conditioning their relentless self-exploitation as a way to cope with increasing precarity.


Diatyka Widya Permata Yasih is Lecturer at the Department of Sociology, Universitas Indonesia, and a PhD candidate at the Asia Institute, University of Melbourne. Her work, “Jakarta’s Precarious Workers: Are They A New Dangerous Class”? was published by Journal of Contemporary Asia in 2017.


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