Technologies of control, communication and calculation: Taxi drivers' labour in the platform economy

Taxi driving work is an ICT-mediated, mobile process, where drivers are subject to a series of technologies of surveillance and control. This chapter examines the technological conditions facing Chinese taxi drivers in the rise of taxi-hailing apps and explores how the nature and the process of driving as work have been transformed by platforms. I argue that the tension between government regulation and taxi companies that once caused local discrepancies and sometimes conflicts in deploying technologies of control in taxis now becomes the interstice of manipulation for taxi-hailing apps. Drivers, however, deploy their precarity and appropriate technologies and algorithms to engage in different levels of tactic calculations and political resistance. Taxi-hailing apps have made taxi drivers into data producers, algorithm trainers, and infrastructural labourers, simultaneously.

Chen, J. (2017), Technologies of control, communication and calculation: Taxi drivers' labour in the platform economy, in (eds.) Moore, P., Upchurch, M and Whittaker, X. Humans and machines at work, Palgrave Macmillan, Cham.

Metadata

  • transport
  • China
  • 2017
  • Research publication, Case study-worker
  • motivation, autonomy, flexibility and control
  • English
  • Palgrave Macmillan (Publisher)
  • Qualitative research
  • Subscription
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