Doctoral project

What drove me towards undertaking this project

Throughout 2020, I collaborated with 27 research gig economy workers who identified as being disabled, neurodivergent, impaired, chronically ill, or as experiencing mental distress. We reflected together on the working conditions of precariously employed disabled workers in the UK.

Prior to starting the doctoral programme, I had worked on a full-time, permanent contract (as a University administrator) once, with the rest of my working arrangements, contracts, and internships being short-term and ad-hoc both within the University and outside. This is an experience that has been normalised increasingly more after the 2008 economic crisis, when austerity measures started to be rolled out throughout the UK, and stable working conditions began to be deteriorated and deemed as a luxury. Throughout my adult life, I have been interested in matters related to ‘the body’ and work, but I never had the chance to fully explore the relationship between the two -and disablement too- until I secured funding from Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC – they are the UK’s funding body for social research) to undertake a Doctoral project designed by myself.

My broad academic area of interest is social and political theory, but most importantly I am driven by a political desire to put liberatory theories to use in a way that informs and leads to concrete change to the lives of marginalised groups. Over the past decade, I have focused my efforts on educating myself about matters related to social justice, both academically and in practice within and beyond the university, and through active involvement in two trade unions (and supporting others too). Being interested both in supporting disabled people’s movements, and having reflected upon working conditions during my time as a student, waged worker, and trade unionist, I realised that I needed to do whatever I could to highlight the perspectives and experiences of disabled workers in discussions regarding the present working conditions for precarious workers (self-employed, zero-hours, short-term employees/workers, and others), and the future of work and disability more generally.

If you are interested in reading my previous work (on various other topics), please visit

Blogs/news stories related to the project:

Repositioning work, rest, and resistance in the context of the Spring of Discontent (a blog post I wrote for NSUN)
Disabled gig economy workers must do hours of unpaid work to cope with oppression (article by John Pring)

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Ioana Cerasella Chis