Exploring the concept of regulatory space: employment and working time regulation in the gig-economy

  • Cristina Inversi

Student thesis: Phd


The present doctoral thesis focuses on the complex topic of regulation, looking in particular at that fragment of economic regulation which is the employment relationship. The research discusses regulatory theory and, as a starting point, elaborates on the concept of ‘regulatory space’, identifying ‘arenas’, sources and agency where regulatory phenomena can be investigated. In particular, deepening in the investigation, the research is focused on the contested terrain of working time, in a peculiar sector of the emerging labour market, which is the gig-economy. Combining legal, industrial relations, managerial and sociological discussions, the present work has the precise purpose to address the question of ‘how do employment relations’ actors influence the regulation of working time, both in general and in relation to the gig-economy context?’. Agency and sources of regulation are investigated through analytical lenses, by adopting a theoretical and analytical framework able to take account of the multi-dimensional and multi-level aspects of the matter. The framework allows for a holistic look at regulation that encompasses the dimensions of legal regulation, negotiation (mandated and voluntary) and unilateralism. By focussing on the topic of working time in the gig-economy, the research addresses both a legal discussion on regulations, legal disputes and contracts; at the same time, it undertakes a qualitative empirical investigation conducted with key informants (at international, national and workplace level). The thesis contributes to the debate on regulation, as well as provides insights on the recent phenomena of the gig-economy. The results show how the contested terrain of working time regulation is fragmented in its agencies, sources and processes. The distribution of regulatory agency is of particular relevance because it reveals patterns of employers’ domination and managerial ‘manufactured ambiguity’, which are tentatively counterbalanced by workers’ resistance and organization.
Date of Award1 Aug 2019
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • The University of Manchester
SupervisorAristea Koukiadaki (Supervisor) & Tony Dundon (Supervisor)


  • gig-economy
  • regulation
  • working time
  • regulatory space

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