(Dis)Empowering Platforms? The changing nature of everyday life in providing mobility as a service

Authors: Tim Vorley*, , Jen Nelles, Hunter College, Kirsty Newsome, University of Sheffield
Topics: Economic Geography
Keywords: Platform Economy, Self Employment, Uber
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/12/2018
Start / End Time: 1:20 PM / 3:00 PM
Room: Zulu, Sheraton, 8th Floor
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


The so-called platform economy is widely regarded not only to be redefining the nature of work, but the nature of everyday life. There is a growing debate as to the everyday realities digital platform technologies, which are often represented in starkly contrasting ways - from the negative portrayals of insecure work and diminished labour rights to more optimistic readings that emphasize independence and flexibly. With formal structures and institutional strategies struggling to keep apace with emerging platforms, this puts the onus on the workers to mediate the platform. Drawing on a qualitative study of over 100 drivers the paper unpacks the (dis)empowering qualities of uber as the leading platform in providing mobility as a service, by exploring the tactical responses of drivers. The paper argues that it is the ability of drivers to make the platform work for them (i.e. invoking tactical responses), that challenges the inevitability of digital platforms in redefining the future of employment and economic enterprise. These findings also have implications for urban and regional resilience to the extent that local governments and regulatory agencies can ease or constrain driver responses.

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