How Power Inequality Operates in the Gig Economy: Taking Chinese Food Delivery Platform Meituan as an Example

Conference: The European Conference on Arts & Humanities (ECAH2022)
Title: How Power Inequality Operates in the Gig Economy: Taking Chinese Food Delivery Platform Meituan as an Example
Stream: Arts - Social, Political and Community Agendas in the Arts
Presentation Type: Virtual Presentation
Jialu Chen, King's College London, United Kingdom


The integration of the gig economy into individual daily life has changed many aspects of society, one of which is the food industry. The development of the sharing economy has generated considerable revenue. However, behind the huge number might be another distressing picture, demonstrated by various social events showing discontent and resistance of gig workers to the food delivery platforms. Given this background, it is necessary to analyze the root of this dissatisfaction from couriers by examining the inequalities in the food delivery structure. The essay will use Meituan, the largest food delivery company in China, as a case study to investigate the unfairness existing in Chinese food delivery platforms. Firstly, the presentation forms, possible reasons and consequences of inequalities existing between different stakeholders will be analyzed in detail, involving that between riders and the platform, riders and restaurants, riders and customers, restaurants and the company, as well as unfairness between different consumers. Secondly, an analysis of the operating mechanism of inequalities in Meituan will be made from a holistic perspective, followed by a reflection of all the possible results of the unfairness in Meituan. Finally, it will argue the power inequalities between various parties come to fruition through the regulation and algorithm introduced by Meituan, leading to the situation where a few capitalists win at the expense of the interests of the other three stakeholders and even the whole society in an attempt to make a little contribution to the understanding of this worrying trend in China.

Virtual Presentation

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