Dr Kelle Howson is a postdoctoral researcher on the Fairwork project. Kelle is a development geographer interested in how ethical certification is reshaping governance and power relations in global networks.
Dr Kelle Howson
Dr Kelle Howson is a postdoctoral researcher on the Fairwork project at the Oxford Internet Institute.
Her background is in international development, globalisation and agriculture. Her research has examined the impact of ethical certification on power and governance in global agro-food networks. She received a PhD from Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand in 2018. Her PhD thesis explored ethical certification and post-apartheid transformation in the South African wine industry, developing the concept of ethical value networks (EVeNs) to assess the extent to which certifications like Fairtrade contributed to more even development outcomes.
She also holds a Masters of Development Studies from Victoria University of Wellington, and her masters thesis examined the livelihood impact of Fairtrade certification for a coffee cooperative in Timor-Leste.
Her current work with the Fairwork Foundation explores and aims to improve labour standards for platform workers in South Africa. Building on her background in certification studies, Kelle is interested in the potential of interventions aimed at harnessing reflexive consumer power to improve working conditions.
Prior to taking up her current position Kelle served as a Senior Researcher in Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern’s Labour Leader’s Office in the New Zealand Parliament.
International development, globalisation, ethical certification, labour geographies, digital labour, Fairtrade, ethical value networks.
Position held at the OII
- Postdoctoral Researcher, October 2019 –
- (2019) "Certified Utopia: Ethical branding and the wine industry of South Africa" In: Making New Worlds: The utopian potentials of wine and terroir Dutton, J. and Howland, P.J. (eds.). Routledge.
- (2020) "‘Just because you don’t see your boss, doesn’t mean you don’t have a boss’: Covid19 and Gig Worker Strikes across Latin America", International Union Rights. 27 (3) 20-21.
- (2020) "(Dis)embeddedness and (de)commodification: COVID-19, Uber, and the unravelling logics of the gig economy", Dialogues in Human Geography. 10 (2) 203-207.
- (2020) "Thinking out of the Box: Fair work for Platform Workers", King's Law Journal. 31 (2) 236-249.
- (2020) "The Fairwork Foundation: Action Research on the Gig Economy", Global Dialogue.
- (2019) "Doing good by drinking wine? Ethical value networks and upscaling of wine production in Australia, New Zealand and South Africa", European Planning Studies. 27 (12) 2431-2449.
- Code of Good Practice for the Regulation of Platform Work in South Africa. Fairwork.
- (2019) Platform workers, the future of work and Britain’s election. Media@LSE.
- New Zealand’s Abortion Law Reform. Oxford Human Rights Hub.
Uber’s Call for Change in Europe Shirks Responsibility while Highlighting Real Challenges say Fairwork researchers
17 February 2021
The Fairwork project based at the University of Oxford says Uber’s recent white paper on the regulation of gig work in Europe downplays the responsibility of platforms to improve conditions under existing legal frameworks.
6 November 2020
The Fairwork Foundation, in collaboration with researchers and legal academics from the Universities of the Western Cape, Oxford, Cape Town, and Manchester, is launching a new Code of Good Practice for platform workers in South Africa.
13 May 2020
A research report released today shows that those working in South Africa’s gig economy are falling through the cracks of government and private sector responses to Covid-19.
27 April 2020
A new report has shone a light on the plight of some 50 million gig economy workers across the world since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.
4 December 2019
Researchers from Oxford University say the 2019 General Election is a critical moment for the economic and social wellbeing of the millions of workers in the UK’s “gig economy”.
Uber forced to recognise its drivers as workers, but falls short of offering Fair Pay and Representation
17 March 2021
Authors: Srujana Katta, Pablo Aguera, Ahkil Kumar, Funda Ustek Spilda, Kelle Howson, Matthew Cole, Fabian Ferrari, Alessio Bertolini, David Sutcliffe, Mark Graham
By Srujana Katta, Pablo Aguera, Akhil Kumar, Funda Ustek Spilda, Kelle Howson, Matthew Cole, Fabian Ferrari, Alessio Bertolini, David Sutcliffe, Mark Graham A month ...
14 May 2020
Authors: Dr Funda Ustek-Spilda, Mark Graham, Fabian Ferrari, Adam Badger, Srujana Katta, Kelle Howson, Dr Alessio Bertolini
Fairwork focuses on the major companies that use digital platforms to distribute piecemeal work to workers, in several countries. One of the questions we have been asked is whether platforms who are located outside our focus countries, or ...
18 March 2020
Author: Sara Spinks
The Fairwork South Africa 2020 report highlights the precarious nature of work in the South African gig economy. This research is particularly timely in ...
3 February 2020
Authors: Kelle Howson, Srujana Katta, Funda Ustek-Spilda, Mark Graham
Latest analysis on the gig economy from researchers Kelle Howson, Srujana Katta, Funda Ustek-Spilda and Professor Mark Graham, The authors work at the ...
18 March 2021 Sky News
Listen to Fairwork researcher Dr Kelle Howson unpacking Uber's new policy for UK drivers on Sky News
17 March 2021 Politico
Unions welcomed Uber's move to introduce a minimum earnings guarantee for its U.K. drivers — but they're less happy on when the company thinks a driver's shift will start and end.
19 February 2021 Brave New Europe
The legal verdicts against Uber and for workers are mounting up across Europe. Its business model may not be able to survive this.
14 May 2020 Open Democracy
Although there is little evidence of ‘disaster capitalism’, ‘compassionate capitalism’ has been in rather short supply.
23 April 2020 New Internationalist
Coronavirus is showing that precarity and dangerous working conditions are a choice companies have been making for workers, not a necessary payoff for flexibility and independence, say Fairwork researchers.
27 March 2020 OECD Development Matters
The risks faced by members of the gig economy during the Covid-19 outbreak.
26 March 2020 red pepper
How long are we willing to turn a blind eye to the vulnerabilities of essential workers on the bottom of the employment hierarchy, asks the Fairwork Foundation.
23 March 2020 Fast Company South Africa
Accounts from gig economy workers in South Africa and how technology impacts their experiences.
20 March 2020 Daily Maverick
Gig workers make up about 1% of SA’s workforce and many people in self-isolation or quarantine may start leaning heavily on their services.
20 March 2020 Cape Talk
Guest: Dr Kelle Howson | Post-Doctoral Researcher at the Oxford Internet Institute
19 March 2020 Mail & Guardian
The coronavirus pandemic will affect the most vulnerable groups in our society. That includes those in casual or insecure employment who face loss of income or exposure to the virus, and so need greater protection by governments.
19 March 2020 BBrief
South Africa’s current national state of disaster, and the uncertainty that has gripped the world, will especially impact the most vulnerable groups in our society including gig economy workers.
18 March 2020 New Internationalist
A coalition of gig economy researchers at Fairwork explain how gig workers are being hit hardest by COVID-19.
18 March 2020 hypertext
What is being done to protect gig economy workers in South Africa during the COVID-19 outbreak.
1 March 2020 Daily Maverick
Next time you take an Uber, consider sitting in the front seat and asking your driver some questions.
I am currently a researcher on the Fairwork Project, which is financed by the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), commissioned by the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ), and the Economic and Social Research Council through the Global Challenges Research Fund (ES/S00081X/1). In the past five years, my work has been financially supported by New Zealand taxpayers, the New Zealand Royal Society Te Apārangi Marsden Fund, and the New Zealand Aid Programme.