An ethnographic inquiry on the communication strategies of Filipino online freelance influencers in the digital labor economy

Date of Publication


Document Type

Master's Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts in Communication Major in Applied Media Studies


College of Liberal Arts



Thesis Adviser

Cheryll Ruth R. Soriano

Defense Panel Chair

Miguel Q. Rapatan

Defense Panel Member

Melvin A. Jabar
Elvin Valerio
Jazmin B. Llana


Digital platform labor is increasingly becoming an attractive option especially in countries in the Global South where employment conditions are fraught with financial stagnation and socio-economic tensions. Burdened by employment woes such as infrastructural immobility and low wages, countless Filipino professionals are found to be migrating to online platform labor in exchange for autonomy, spatial flexibility, and the possibility for higher earnings. Much of the recent work on digital labor in the Global South, however, highlight the fraught conditions of digital labor, where workers assume a powerless position against their clients and the disciplinary features of the platform. What is not often understood in this situated context is what drives and sustains this form of labor and the politics and asymmetries that characterize differentiated experiences of workers in this digital economy. Particular kinds of workers can thrive and experience social and economic mobility and rise as influencers. This is an emerging category of influential digital workers, micro-celebrities who coach aspiring and current workers on how to succeed and facilitate online communities of support, while simultaneously making gains under the reputational economy. In turn, they drive imaginaries that attract workers to digital labor. Drawing from an ethnography of online freelancing in the Philippines, this thesis investigates the communication strategies and communicative intimacies that online freelancers influencers employ. It also seeks to understand how self-branding relate to the role of online freelance influencers in the community.

Abstract Format






Accession Number


Shelf Location

Archives, The Learning Commons, 12F Henry Sy Sr. Hall

Physical Description

1 computer disc ; 4 3/4 in.


Electronic commerce--Philippines

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