The Politics of the Platform Economy: Understanding Platform Legitimation Tactics

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The political conflicts and struggles around urban platforms shape how they are understood and how their socio-economic effects are evaluated. This chapter takes the analysis of these struggles forward, looking across platforms such as Uber, Lyft, Airbnb and Deliveroo in order to 1) identify common patterns and 2) to note the effect of treating platforms as belonging to a sector - the sharing, collaborative or platform economy - that in early formulations even included not-for-profit initiatives. In the context of public criticisms, social movement mobilisations, and regulatory attempts by states, platform businesses employ some common legitimation tactics. The chapter introduces two of them: discursive claims that platforms are vectors of progress which frame state regulation as backward; and platform-based grassroots lobbying, where civil society pressure is created or co-opted to influence public opinion and regulators. I finally identify three broad approaches to platform-based grassroots lobbying, using examples of various urban platforms: user mobilisation, grassroots alliances with existing groups, and the creation of front groups.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationUrban Platforms and the Future City
Subtitle of host publicationTransformations in Infrastructure, Governance, Knowledge and Everyday Life
EditorsMike Hodson, Julia Kasmire, Andrew McMeekin, John Stehlin, Kevin Ward
Place of PublicationLondon
ISBN (Print)9780367334192
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2020


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