FRIDAY RESEARCH COLLOQUIUM: 3:00 PM 10 May 2024. Chhavi Sharma: ‘Innovation and Platform Economy as Assemblage: Exploring the Interconnections of Global Finance, Technology and a New Language’

Dr. Chhavi Sharma,  Department of Sociology, University of Delhi  will present a paper Innovation and platform economy as assemblage: Exploring the interconnections of global finance, technology and a new language on  Friday, 10th  May, 2024 at 3:00 p.m. in the M.N. Srinivas Seminar Room (First Floor).  


We are living in times of “innovation”, hailed as having the capacity to rescue cities, its workers and herald a new age of prosperity for individuals, societies and nations at large. One such innovation that entered the Indian cities is the aggregators or  platforms like Uber and Ola. The stellar rise of these innovative platforms has been unprecedented in terms of the number of drivers and riders logging into these platforms, the number of kilometres covered by them and showcased in their yearly reports published on their respective webpages and the number of aggregator taxis that now crowd the streets of Indian cities. The paper here aims to critically unpack this innovation in the transport sector of the Indian cities. The data published by the aggregator companies tells a story of growth, wealth, responsive conduct and of combatting the ills of urban growth. However, there is another story – one of increasing precarity of workers, exploitation, arbitrary terms of work, and information being strategically witheld from riders and drivers.

Drawing from years of fieldwork in the city of Mumbai, the paper argues that the assemblage of finance and technology powered innovation along with discursive practices of these platforms has dominated the discourse on platforms, their lop-sided and often extra-legal (if not illegal) ways of operations. These interlinkages I argue exert bargaining power with respect to the state, public and workers. By critically analysing a few key terms renewed by the aggregators, the paper deliberates on the importace of looking beyond the popularised narrative of the platform economy at a scale that is global and holds implications for the local and the embedded.

You are cordially invited to attend the presentation and participate in the discussion                                                      

Tila Kumar  and Janaki Abraham
Friday Research Colloquium