Necrocapitalism in the Gig Economy: The Case of Platform Food Couriers in Australia
Abstract: Although recent deaths of multiple couriers on the road have raised awareness of the dangers of on-demand food delivery, there remains limited government regulation of the industry in many jurisdictions. In this article, we argue that the labour conditions of platform couriers in Australia constitute a case of necrocapitalism (Banerjee), a contemporary form of accumulation through which organisational structures harness the power of debilitation and death for economic gain. After contextualising food delivery within the Australian gig economy, our analysis underscores how necropower operates through courier labour. We illustrate three dimensions: how this form of labour entails corporeal risks and harms; how these harms are heightened by platform infrastructures; and how strategic regulatory inaction maintains necropolitical orders. The article concludes with a reflection on how this contemporary example of necrocapitalism illuminates intersecting vectors of domination underpinning the logics and practices of platform governance.