Nationalist rhetoric is on the rise. Politicians are hardening their borders against “outsiders”. After decades in which globalisation seemed like an unstoppable economic force, “deglobalisation” is suddenly the word on everyone’s lips. But to focus on border walls and goods in container ships is to miss another phenomenon, one that is happening out of sight and outside of politicians’ control. The gig economy is facilitating the rise of a global marketplace for online labour. For good or ill, this is a new strain of globalisation in its rawest form. When most people imagine the gig economy, they probably think of companies such as Uber or Deliveroo — apps that connect customers to nearby workers to do physical tasks like driving and delivery. It is easy to see why these companies have been in the limelight. They are vast and visible. Everyone can see how they have upended the traditional employment relationship. But there is another type of gig economy platform that focuses on serv...

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