Indian freelancers’ experiences of bullying on online labour markets: insights into digital workplaces in the informal economy
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This chapter reports a pioneering study on workplace bullying in digital workplaces, taking the field in a new direction. In addition, it makes further contributions by providing insights on the interface between emotional abuse and the informal economy. Adopting van Manen’s hermeneutic phenomenology, targets’ lived experiences of bullying on online labour markets were explored. Data gathered from Indian freelancers located on Upwork via conversational telephonic interviews were subjected to sententious and selective thematic analyses. The core theme of ‘pursuing long-term and holistic well-being’, along with its major themes, themes and subthemes, was recast to match a priori categories identified from the literature on bullying in conventional workplaces, namely, sources, manifestations, aetiology, outcomes, problem-focused coping and emotion-focused coping. In highlighting the features of bullying in digital workplaces and comparing them with conventional workplaces to show similarities and differences, the chapter rewrites the dynamics of the substantive area. Moreover, the findings which advance insights into the positive relationship between workplace bullying and non-standard employment in the novel work context of online labour markets are particularly pertinent to India where a disproportionate part of the workforce is engaged in the informal economy. Recommendations for action in terms of regulation and collectivization are proposed.
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