Discovery Park Undergraduate Research Internship Program

"DURI: Security and Employee Agency in the Sharing Economy"

About the Project

Project Time & Type:
Fall 2017 - DURI
Research area(s):
sharing economy; sociology of technology; human-computer interaction; care ethics; cybersecurity; privacy
Project Description:
The systems that provide opportunities for work are changing—becoming more distributed and increasingly all-encompassing in scale and potential societal impact. In this project, we are focusing on one aspect of this shift in employment opportunities: the "sharing" or "gig" economy. Common examples include service organizations such as AirBnB, Uber, or Lyft, and task-oriented labor through sites such as TaskRabbit or Mechanical Turk. These services and sites are predicated on a notion of temporary employment, which fundamentally changes the status of the employer/employee relationship and brings to the foreground new security, sustainability, and privacy concerns. Because this research space is quite new and understudied, our first steps will include qualitative analysis of data collected by researchers in the United States and England through Uber/Lyft and TaskRabbit. Through this analysis, we hope to identify privacy and security concerns, alterations of typical employee/customer roles, and the employee's agency in these interactions.
Expected Student Contributions:
The intern will work with the research team to analyze and expand upon data relating to the sharing or gig economy which has been collected by investigators in the United States and England. The intern will contribute to analysis of existing data and identification and collection of new data sources deemed appropriate to the project. They will regularly work with the research team, iteratively identifying and clarifying qualitative insights. This work may result in contributions to conference and journal publications if the intern is interested. Strong data collection and analysis skills are helpful, but a self-driven student with technical competencies that may increase the scope of the project is also welcomed.
Related Website(s):
Desired Qualifications:
The ideal candidate possesses strong Internet research skills and can thoroughly document and organize findings using appropriate quantitative and qualitative techniques. Human subjects training or past research experience with human subjects is helpful, but not required. Existing qualitative analysis skills are helpful, but motivation to learn is equally valued.
Estimated Weekly Hours:
Department awards independent research credits for this project?

Professor in Charge

Toombs, Austin
computer graphics technology

Student Supervisor

Austin Toombs
Assistant Professor

Cooperating Faculty

Ann Light
Design & Creative Technology, Univ. of Sussex
Colin Gray