Is Uber the Future of Work? The Gig Economy and the Remaking of Economic Citizenship

The app-based “gig economy” has emerged as a hot topic not only in the current US presidential election, but across the globe. Companies like Uber, Lyft, and Mechanical Turk are rewriting the rules of the labor market and reconstituting the nature of the employment relationship, raising the question: Who is an employee? Proponents of the “sharing” economy argue that it empowers the ordinary citizen, institutionalizes a new model of asset-sharing, and creates much-needed jobs. Critics argue that little in the “sharing economy” is being “shared” and that these companies are circumventing minimal labor standards. An April 15 event sponsored by the Labor Studies Working Group explored the implications of the "gig" or “sharing” economy for economic citizenship.