Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Social Sciences


Sociology and Social Policy

First Advisor

Prof. CHEN Hon Fai

Second Advisor

Prof. CHAN Hau Nung Annie


“The information economy” provides digital platforms linking businesses, services, and individual consumers across the world. Researchers view this development as a mixed blessing as it increases the gap that leads to social polarization between those workers who lack digital skills and those who have the skills.

This thesis examined how the employment and livelihood vulnerabilities of informal sector employees in Dhaka, Bangladesh arose during the restructuring of the labor market which make them marginalized and socially polarized under the information economy system. In addition, this thesis has explored the behavioral responses and attitudes of informal sector workers toward information technology. The research investigated their possession, or not, of different types of capital (social, cultural, economic, and human) that render them vulnerable to finding employment and maintaining their standards of living in the information economy.

The lens of the network-based information society's influence on the labor market at the macro level; the function of various types of capital in obtaining access to digital services at the meso level; and finally, the behavioral intentions related to technology adaptation and their influence at the micro level used as a theoretical perspective to address the research questions. This study of the data adopted both a quantitative (n = 480) and qualitative (n = 35) approach to data collection.

This study finds that most urban services in Dhaka are now operated and controlled using digital economic platforms. The majority of the respondents indicated that they could not afford the associated costs needed to access digital services. This deficiency contributed to their polarization. Those respondents whose employment had already been hampered, as well as those who do not have access to technologically developed and connected platforms, were found to be more vulnerable to unemployment. Worries about losing a job or business; the difficulty of finding new employment or starting a new business, as well as a shortage of jobs in the informal sector served as the most reliable predictors of employment vulnerability.

Respondents' social, cultural, human, and economic capital was also found to be severely inadequate, hindering their opportunities to expand their self-employment initiatives by playing a role as service providers as well as consumers in the digital economic system. Moreover, the respondents' lack of initiative and resourcefulness combined with their attitudes toward the adoption of technology was aggravated by negative risk and benefit assessments, which also played a role in discouraging them from trying to prepare for employment in the information economy.

Respondents' social polarization and other types of urban marginality were produced and reproduced by their limited access and systematic barrier to integration into the digital labor market, making them a new urban marginal group of people. Women respondents were found more vulnerable in an information society in Dhaka. As a result, this thesis provides recommendations for drafting and implementing a policy aimed at effectively and efficiently providing informal sector workers with what they need to bring them into the information economy.



Recommended Citation

Hussain, R. (2023). Information economy, employment vulnerability and the development of new urban marginality: The case of Bangladesh (Doctoral thesis, Lingnan University, Hong Kong). Retrieved from

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