"Postcapitalist precarious work and those in the 'drivers' seat: Exploring the motivations and lived experiences of Uber drivers in Canada"
by Peticca-Harris, A; DeGAMA, N (2020)
In this inductive, qualitative study, we observe how Uber, a company often hailed as being the poster-child of the sharing economy facilitated through a digital platform may also at times represent and reinforce postcapitalist hyper-exploitation. Drawing on the motivations and lived experiences of 31 Uber drivers in Toronto, Canada, we provide insights into three groups of Uber drivers: (1) those that are driving part-time to earn extra money in conjunction with studying or doing other jobs, (2) those that are unemployed and for whom driving for Uber is the only source of income, and (3) professional drivers, who are trying to keep pace with the durable digital landscape and competitive marketplace. We emphasize the ways in which each driver group simultaneously acknowledges and rejects their own precarious employment by distancing techniques such as minimizing the risks and accentuating the advantages of the driver role. We relate these findings to a broader discussion about how driving for Uber fuels the traditional capitalist narrative that working hard and having a dream will lead to advancement, security and success. We conclude by discussing other alternative economies within the sharing economy.
Postcapitalism within the context of platform-based sharing economy as we have revealed, maynot be an anti-capitalist alternative but it has presented new challenges, insights, and configurations of capitalism. One such expression of postcapitalism that this article has reflected on is thework and lives of Uber drivers. Driving for Uber is a personalized, commercial endeavor, established in the dark spaces that current business models and legislation are only starting to ventureinto. It does not remedy threats to instability, precariousness or work intensification. Rather, forsome drivers, it exacerbates these realities. (p.46)
KeywordsPost-Capitalism, Precarious Work, Platform Work, Gig Economy, Uber, Exploitation, Sharing Economy
ThemesGoods of Work, Job Sharing, Gig Work, Capitalism
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