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167

In the Big Leagues: How Uber Plays Ball

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Rosenblat, A. (2018). In the Big Leagues: How Uber Plays Ball. In Rosenblat, A. Uberland: How Algorithms Are Rewriting the Rules of Work. University of California Press, pp. 167-196

168

[...] as Uber enters a new space, it takes a direct-to-consumer approach, bypassing potential barriers, like regulations or political opposition, by winning over consumers with its effective app. It cautions opponents that might try to constrain some of its practices by conveying the message, "Be grateful for the disruptive innovation we bring, because what we offer is superior to the regulations that would hold us back" (what I refer to as "gratitude logic"). Because of its size and influence, it simply shrugs off regulation that it doesn't like. Then, Uber shifts and reshifts its identity, trying to find exploitable cracks and inconsistencies between various systems of rules and laws. Finally, Uber plays stakeholders against each other, using temporary alliances to gain a foothold wherever it goes. In many cases, drivers, passengers, cities, and others benefit from Uber's operations, but there are always others who are left behind.

damn this is good! very similar reasoning to my piece on Uber from sep 2017

—p.168 by Alex Rosenblat 3 years, 7 months ago

[...] as Uber enters a new space, it takes a direct-to-consumer approach, bypassing potential barriers, like regulations or political opposition, by winning over consumers with its effective app. It cautions opponents that might try to constrain some of its practices by conveying the message, "Be grateful for the disruptive innovation we bring, because what we offer is superior to the regulations that would hold us back" (what I refer to as "gratitude logic"). Because of its size and influence, it simply shrugs off regulation that it doesn't like. Then, Uber shifts and reshifts its identity, trying to find exploitable cracks and inconsistencies between various systems of rules and laws. Finally, Uber plays stakeholders against each other, using temporary alliances to gain a foothold wherever it goes. In many cases, drivers, passengers, cities, and others benefit from Uber's operations, but there are always others who are left behind.

damn this is good! very similar reasoning to my piece on Uber from sep 2017

—p.168 by Alex Rosenblat 3 years, 7 months ago
184

[...] when Uber first arrives in a city, rates are higher and drivers are often happier. Then, it floods the market with new drivers, sometimes by widening eligibility criteria (such as by extending the range of cars drivers can use), and often lowers the rates at which driven earn their income. By creating a job for everyone, Uber can undermine the interests of dedicated full-timers. In effect, one civil rights cause—equality of access—is pitted against another cause: job security. The sheen of civil-society partnerships gives Uber cover for practices that negatively affect drivers in other arenas.

[...] The multiplying numbers who hold a stake in Uber's future can create paradoxical clashes between civil rights and labor rights efforts when they might otherwise be aligned, because organization in favor of or in resistance to Uber is not uniform.

The specter of managing labor's economic relations along racial lines evokes other social struggles in American history. For example, historian Nancy MacLean reminds us that at the turn of the nineteenth century, a battle brewed in Tennessee between free miners and employers who (in collusion with the state) were keeping wages low by renting cheap convict labor. "The widely reviled system, so redolent of slavery, created a perverse incentive to lock new up for petty offenses so the state could rent them out to coal companies as dirt-cheap labor to rake the jobs of free miners, who had organized the United Mine Workers of America to demand living wages and decent treatment." [...]

needs to be analysed further but, damn, food for thought

—p.184 by Alex Rosenblat 3 years, 7 months ago

[...] when Uber first arrives in a city, rates are higher and drivers are often happier. Then, it floods the market with new drivers, sometimes by widening eligibility criteria (such as by extending the range of cars drivers can use), and often lowers the rates at which driven earn their income. By creating a job for everyone, Uber can undermine the interests of dedicated full-timers. In effect, one civil rights cause—equality of access—is pitted against another cause: job security. The sheen of civil-society partnerships gives Uber cover for practices that negatively affect drivers in other arenas.

[...] The multiplying numbers who hold a stake in Uber's future can create paradoxical clashes between civil rights and labor rights efforts when they might otherwise be aligned, because organization in favor of or in resistance to Uber is not uniform.

The specter of managing labor's economic relations along racial lines evokes other social struggles in American history. For example, historian Nancy MacLean reminds us that at the turn of the nineteenth century, a battle brewed in Tennessee between free miners and employers who (in collusion with the state) were keeping wages low by renting cheap convict labor. "The widely reviled system, so redolent of slavery, created a perverse incentive to lock new up for petty offenses so the state could rent them out to coal companies as dirt-cheap labor to rake the jobs of free miners, who had organized the United Mine Workers of America to demand living wages and decent treatment." [...]

needs to be analysed further but, damn, food for thought

—p.184 by Alex Rosenblat 3 years, 7 months ago