The Challenges of Crowd Workers in Rural and Urban America

Crowd work has the potential of helping the financial recovery of regions traditionally plagued by a lack of economic opportunities, e.g., rural areas. However, we currently have limited information about the challenges facing crowd workers from rural and super rural areas as they struggle to make a living through crowd work sites. This paper examines the challenges and advantages of rural and super rural Amazon Mechanical Turk (MTurk) crowd workers and contrasts them with those of workers from urban areas. Based on a survey of 421 crowd workers from differing geographic regions in the U.S., we identified how across regions, people struggled with being onboarded into crowd work. We uncovered that despite the inequalities and barriers, rural workers tended to be striving more in micro-tasking than their urban counterparts. We also identified cultural traits, relating to time dimension and individualism, that offer us an insight into crowd workers and the necessary qualities for them to succeed on gig platforms. We finish by providing design implications based on our findings to create more inclusive crowd work platforms and tools.
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