Uber Drivers in the Grey Zone As a Public Space: Brazil and France

Wednesday, 18 July 2018: 11:00
Oral Presentation
Rodrigo CARELLI, Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Donna KESSELMAN, Université Paris-Est Créteil, France
The employment grey zone is not just the result of "difficulties determining the employer's power in production systems", but more fundamentally of the destabilization of categories rooted in the existence of class. That is how legal systems determine in the courts whether Uber drivers are subordinated or not, how governments determine what rights it will grant them. We propose to study the underlying conceptions of class in recent political treatment of on-demand drivers in Brazil and in France. Brazil because it is in the forefront of legal classification of drivers as employees (Carelli, 2017). France because, with the United States, in a context where declining labor organizations and insitutions, it is a foremost example of how the employer offensive is displacing the labor question into the "public space" (Azaïs, Dieuaide, Kesselman 2017).

The importance of a deeper look at the Uber question goes beyond the limits of its dispute with taxi drivers, since it can be seen as a new model of work organization that may be spread to virtually all sectors of the economy, causing serious problems of regulation and acquisition of rights by the workers, as they are – at least formally by companies like Uber– considered as “partners”, “independent contractors” or “entrepreneurs”.

And it is not just a model of work organization, but raises fundamental issues of the relationship between work, the worker and society from a global perspective.