What does uber tell us about work, labor management, and mobility in the post-financial crisis world? Uber’s success has been tied to its cultural resonance and on its ability to tell convincing stories about itself to drivers, passengers, and governments about what it is, who drivers are, and why they are driving. Uberland: How Algorithms are Rewriting the Rules of Work
(University of California Press, 2018) goes beyond the stories of share prices and corporate intrigue to examine what work looks like and what it means for Uber drivers. The book examines the intersection of two central cultural phenomena: fundamental shifts in what it means to be employed and the technology ideology of Silicon Valley. It does so by detailing the tension between the freedom and flexibility that Uber promises and the realities of invasive algorithmic management. It’s a well-argued and timely book – the conversation was recorded the week that California passed a bill closing some of the loopholes that have given rise to the gig economy.
is a technology ethnographer, and Research Lead at the Data & Society Research Institute in New York.
Jacob Doherty is a lecturer in anthropology of development at the University of Edinburgh and, most recently, the co-editor Labor Laid Waste, a special issue of International Labor and Working Class History.