Free to work anxiously: Splintering precarity among drivers for Uber and Lyft

Drawing on interviews from the Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania area, this study explores how Uber and Lyft drivers understand their own digital labor. Situated between the presumed freedom of the digital economy and the feelings of risk that accompany independently contracted work under neoliberalism, these drivers evidence what we term splintering precarity—a bifurcated set of risks that stands in contrast to both certain more privileged dotcom employees who may not require a supplemental income and less privileged laborers who are denied even the “on-demand” employment of Uber and Lyft. The experience of these drivers offers an important picture of the affective impacts of the infrastructural outsourcing that characterizes much early 21st-century economics.

Malin, B. and Chandler, C. (2017), 'Free to work anxiously: Splintering precarity among drivers for Uber and Lyft,' Communication, Culture and Critique, 10(2), pp. 382-400.


  • Research publication, Case study-worker
  • Yes
  • transport
  • On-location platform-determined routine work
  • Uber, Lyft
  • Communication, Culture and Critique (Publisher)
  • 2017
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