BA (Hons) Photography
The Cost of Convenience
‘The Cost of Convenice’ is a project about the people who work jobs without the traditional security of a salary or long term contract. While not exclusively gig economy and zero hour roles, these, as well as positions considered self employed make up the majority of this kind of work. Considering that the rise of the term ‘gig economy’ came from the 2008 financial crisis and recently the spread of Covid-19, it goes to show that these events that sound unlikely really do happen. The people I’ve sought to photograph as a part of this project are working jobs that would be affected more than most in these scenarios.
Gig economy platforms operate in a regulatory grey area, suggesting that ‘they simply provide a digital means for entrepreneurs to connect and do business’ when in reality they do much more. Despite this, because gig economy workers are considered ‘independent contractors’ to these apps, they are not entitled to sick pay, paid holidays or a minimum wage.
Casual employment and gig economy work can easily grind to a halt as it did over the multiple UK lock downs. The Office of National Statistics found that at the start of the pandemic, 1,069,000 people in the UK were employed on a zero hours basis. During the first year of the pandemic, 23.1% of households consisting of a single self employed person reported that their income fell short of ‘barely adequate’. Workers face having severely reduced work hours each week or even just being let go for the convenience of the company. The people that I have sought to photograph are ones who I feel would take the brunt of an economic slowdown such as Covid or don’t enjoy the same job security as many people even outside of these circumstances.