Inscription: Taxi Work Relations, the Ficha and the Political Economy of a Market Device

Juan Manuel Del Nido

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By indexing several key variables in the industry to the “ficha”, the taxi fare multiplier, Buenos Aires’ taxi union recreated economic, fiscal and legal relations emerging from taxi work. In principle a perfect example of a market device, an actant facilitating economic exchange, the ficha consistently transformed the taxi industry’s income uncertainties into certainties for the union, abstracting its income from wages, contracts and amount or value of work. Examining this case study from a political economy approach, I propose the trope of inscription to understand how structural inequalities can be written into market devices that reproduce them. The political economy approach is a powerful complement to market devices as emergent technologies revolutionize the nature, quality and management of work in ways shown to reproduce and naturalize hierarchies
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)50-58
Number of pages9
JournalAnthropology of Work Review
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 14 Apr 2020


  • Buenos Aires
  • inscription
  • market devices
  • political economy
  • taxi


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