Body and Mind

Reframing Labour Exploitation and Risk as a Sport Among Platform Workers. The Case of the Food Delivery Sector in Budapest

  • Nagy Klára
doi: 10.32575/ppb.2024.1.10


Cycling food couriers in Hungary tend to normalise and justify for themselves the precarious gig working conditions as a sports activity. To understand the blurring between sport and work, I carried out participant observation, conducted semi-structured interviews and discourse analysis. I worked as a bicycle courier in Budapest in July and August 2021. The successful boom of the cycling-based food delivery platforms depends on the extraction of bodily resources. Food delivery companies create new frontiers as they frame labour as challenging cardio activity.
The riders embrace the idea that they get paid for training their body, which activity is otherwise expensive and tiring. The workers utilise their knowledge from their past sporting activities about nutrition and pain relief to increase their workload. Sporting rivalry and boasting of results are active features of the courier community.
Although my interviewees proudly claimed themselves entrepreneurs, the body experiences reveal the cleavage between gig wage labour and idealised entrepreneurship. The pain and dangers of urban cycling work highlight the unequal relationship and make couriers critical of the company.


platform economy gig work food delivery labor exploitation embodied labor


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