New research project – The New Night Shift

Today I’ve had the good news that I’ve received funding from Newcastle University’s Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences for a small research project titled “The New Night Shift: on-demand delivery workers in the night-time city”.

The project marks a turn towards a greater focus on night-time working, which I’m hoping to develop over the next few years. I’m interested in how on-demand delivery creates new ways of working in and inhabiting the night-time city. Workers respond to the demands for food or product deliveries in the evening and at night, meaning new shift patterns which fall outside the traditional 9-5 but which are also very distinct from the night-shift patterns of factory workers or even those employed in bars and clubs.

The project has two research questions:

  1. How do on-demand delivery workers experience night-shift work; is this comparable to well established forms of nocturnal employment?
  2. What are the mobilities of night-time on-demand delivery workers: what spaces do they inhabit and what routes do they follow?

I’m interested in the spaces that workers inhabit while waiting between jobs, the public squares, cafes etc where they gather. What routes do on-demand delivery workers take as they move around the city at night, and do these differ to the day? I’m also interested as to how night-work is integrated into other duties or responsibilites such as second jobs, education, or care. or the home in the gaps between jobs? Are night shifts split, or integrated with day shifts? And how do these new night-time workers change the night-time city?

I’ll be interviewing delivery workers in the North-East of England, and I’m hoping to get GPS data from a selection of them as part of this project. I’ll be developing a page with information for participants on this website soon, to launch when the project formally starts in August 2018.

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