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Department of Social Anthropology


Senior Research Seminar with Dr Juan del Nido (University of Cambridge)

Production, consumers’ convenience and cynical economies: the case of Uber in Buenos Aires

Based on 12 months of fieldwork into Uber’s conflict in Buenos Aires, Argentina, this presentation examines convenience’s role in the emergence of what I call cynical economies: a method and logic of production expressly organised on the awareness of a distance between consumer and producer the rhetoric of convenience exacerbates. For many residents convenience defined a democratising, empowering arena of private relations away from the hierarchies and exclusions proper to the private sphere. As Uber’s ratings translated consumers’ experiences into a political economy for the trade, drivers organised the production of the ride knowing that whatever exceeded the immediate intelligibility of the experience could not “count”. I show how cynical economies delegitimise complex and inherently social categories like risk, responsibility and liability, as well as the social sphere that frames them, without offering an alternative order in return.

Friday, 22 January, 2021 - 16:15 to 18:00
Event location: 
Online - by email invitation