Centre for Internet & Society

The Centre for Internet and Society, India (CIS), is seeking applications from candidates keen on researching the landscape of labour practices in the ‘platform economy’ in India. Candidates should be able to display strong skills in quantitative data collection and analysis. The deadline for applications is February 28, 2021. Applications are strongly encouraged from individuals belonging to historically marginalised communities, including caste-oppressed communities, women, LGBTQIA+ people, and people with a disability/disabilities.

 

About the research projects

Over 2021-23, CIS is seeking to comprehensively evaluate labour practices in dominant and emergent sectors in the platform economy in India. In doing so, we will be combining field-based qualitative and quantitative methods, and desk-based legal-regulatory research.

The knowledge generation will comprise 3 work packages that include: (a) the creation of quantitative datasets on the sector-specific management of platform labour(ers) in India; (b) an unpacking and analysis of digital platforms’ organisational structures and regulatory positions; and (c) strategy-building exercises and distillation of findings into implementable forms.

Throughout, focus will be placed on understanding and addressing the particular opportunities and challenges in accessing and conducting work on digital platforms faced by labour belonging to marginalised communities. These works will involve sustained and sustainable engagement with multiple stakeholders, including specialised short-term consultants, civil society organisations, labour collectives, workers and policy makers.

About the position

The selected researcher will be a key part of the core research team tasked with the delivery of the works described above. The researcher will add to the existing capacities of the research team, bringing strong quantitative skills. We also strongly value candidates’ commitment to social justice and meaningful change. Additionally, we expect candidates to display a desire to understand, and counter the disempowering forces detrimental to platform workers’ gainful labour outcomes.

The researcher will be able to tap into a strong portfolio of the research team’s experience in research on labour digitisation and the team’s keenness in deploying non-extractive, participatory methodologies of knowledge generation. The research team is also inter-disciplinary, with formal backgrounds in law, humanities, design and media studies, and is well situated in grassroots, civil society and academic networks in local, regional and global networks.

This is a 20-month position with an extension contingent on future funding. Time and inclination permitting, the researcher may also have opportunities to collaborate with other research clusters at CIS.

We seek candidates who are currently available, or will be available to start in April, 2021. The researcher will report to Aayush Rathi, senior researcher at CIS.

Responsibilities

The primary responsibilities for this position will be to:

  • Primary research
    • Design and oversee the implementation of large scale surveys, including co-creating the research design
    • Support and review analysis and cleaning of survey data
    • Support and review qualitative data collection and analyses
  • Secondary research
    • Co/Produce literature reviews, mapping documentation and policy trackers
  • Authorship
    • Individually and jointly author academic and semi-academic outputs such as papers, book chapters
    • Individually and jointly author public-facing outputs such as open datasets, reports, toolkits, policy briefs, blogs, opinion pieces
    • Participate in the production of accessible and non-traditional outputs including multimedia content, brochures, translations etc.
  • Outreach
    • Translate research findings for, and engage with an array of actors in India and elsewhere including civil society and grassroots groups, platform managers, policymakers and platform workers
    • Participate in, and organise conferences, seminars, events, panels etc.
  • Non-research
    • Actively participate in regular team meetings
    • Participate in capacity building sessions organised at CIS
    • Identify and support fund-raising activities

Requirements

Essential

  • A masters’ degree and/or relevant research experience of 2+ years in economics, sociology, technology studies, journalism, public policy, development studies, or related fields
  • Strong research skills, specifically in quantitative methods
  • Ability to translate research for a variety of audiences, including policy makers, journalists, academia and non-expert groups
  • Familiarity with developments in, and literature on labour and digitisation, particularly in the areas of ‘gig’ work, platform work and digital economy

Desirable

  • Experience of coordinating with a diverse set of stakeholders
  • Exposure to public speaking

Covid-19 considerations

We expect work-from-home protocols to be in place for the foreseeable future. However, some of this work may require some face-to-face interaction with actors such as data collection agencies and respondents during the primary data collection stage. We will be creating affordances for the risks of covid-19 exposure such as using telephonic interviews, and are excited to explore innovative forms of data collection as well. However, we anticipate that especially for emergent sectors, where we may not have a pre-existing network, we may be required to ‘enter the field’.

Salary and benefits

A gross figure of INR 65,000-70,000 per month (commensurate with the relevance of prior work, skill set and qualification), and a modest health insurance plan.

The compensation is subject to an increment in the second half of the contract tenure. The increment will be contingent on a performance appraisal.

We will also be supporting reasonably incurred expenses to facilitate comfortable working conditions at home.

Application materials

Please send in the below application materials, preferably as a merged PDF, to Aayush Rathi ([email protected]) by February 28, 2021.

  • Your resume or CV.
  • Cover letter (upto 500 words). You may reflect upon, and describe your prior and ongoing research experience. You may also illustrate your personal or professional engagements with working for marginalised communities. Do indicate your desired start date and fit of this position with professional trajectories and aspirations.
  • 2 writing samples. Typically published, these should be relevant to the requirements for this position, and may display your writing versatility.
  • The names, affiliations, and email addresses of 3 references. We will seek your consent before reaching out to any references.

Feel free to contact us with any questions about the position. Questions about the opportunity or process will not reflect negatively on your application.

Timelines

January 20, 2021 Opening of application window

February 28, 2021 Closing of application window

February–March, 2021 Interviews (on a rolling basis)

April, 2021 Expected start date

About CIS’s labour research

Over the last few years, CIS’s research portfolio has expanded to include pioneering work on the platform economy, and work and labour futures. Through this work, we have sought to centre workers' rights and livelihoods in policy and academic debates. Our work on automation in India's (and South East Asia's) manufacturing and services industries revealed the political economies and differential pathways of technological disruption in formal and informal work. Subsequent projects have been pivotal in furthering socio-legal-political understandings of technologically mediated service work specifically in the global south, and specifically in India.

These works have also adopted methodological innovations through the incorporation of feminist principles and praxis. Our work with domestic workers involved radical participatory methods where domestic workers and activists were key knowledge producers. We have extensively worked with workers' collectives to support their data generation and research activities. This has included data collection innovations that factor in the unique dynamics of digitally mediated work(ers) to organise surveys at an unprecedented scale.

The proposed project will build on these thematic and methodological works to generate actionable evidence. While our earlier works have been focused on surfacing the experience of digital labouring in global south contexts, this project will articulate regulatory, legislative and legal designs that build on these experiential learnings. A collection of some of our work on labour can be found here.

 

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