Beyond the precariat: race, gender, and labor in the taxi and Uber economy
Uber has been hailed as a revolutionary peer-sharing platform, disrupting the archaic taxi industry, and creating employment and transportation opportunities for an increasingly imperiled middle class. We counter this representation by arguing that Uber’s main innovation is not its app, but the creation of part-time vs. full-time drivers. This durational divide reproduces familiar hierarchies of race, gender, and citizenship, with male immigrant full-time drivers positioned against more privileged part-time drivers both within the ranks of Uber and across the Uber-cabbie divide. We tie the differential regulation histories of Uber and taxi cabs to ideas of racial freedom; consider how disability and premature death is unevenly distributed; and conclude by considering how workers today can be understood through the experience of public demonstration or assembly. Here, we go beyond the universalizing term of precariat, without returning to limited understandings of class, to consider collective vulnerability and agency.
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