The politics of Uber: Infrastructural power in the United States and Europe
[Regulation & Governance]
Platform firms have been depicted as having structural and instrumental power and being able to prevail in regulatory battles. This paper, in contrast, documents how they have often adapted to regulations and provide different services across locales. I show that platform firms have a specific type of power, infrastructural power, that stems from their position of mediators across a variety of actors. This power, I argue, is shaped by pre-existing regulations and the firms’ strategic response, that I call “contentious compliance”: a double movement of adapting to existing regulations, while continuing to challenge them. I apply this framework to the expansion and regulation of Uber in New York City (US), Madrid (Spain) and Berlin (Germany).
What Capital Wants: Business Interests and Labor Market Reform in Portugal and Spain
[The Journal of Comparative Politics]
Under what conditions are governments able to liberalize labor markets? I leverage the cases of Portugal and Spain, two countries hit by the Eurozone crisis and constrained in their policy options, that diverge in the key measure mandated by international creditors to recover—the decentralization of collective bargaining. Against the common assumption that the liberalization of labor is widely embraced by capital, I show that governments are only able to advance labor reforms when there is a leading industrial export sector that benefits from it and provides a powerful domestic social partner for technocrats and European institutions recommending those policies. I test this argument with in-depth qualitative data collected during 12 months of fieldwork in both countries, including 129 interviews with politicians, policy-makers, and members of business associations and labor confederations, among others.
2021. Philip Manow, Social Protection, Capitalist Production: The Bismarckian Welfare State in the German Political Economy, 1880–2015 and Tobias Schulze-Cleven and Sidney A. Rothstein (eds), Imbalance: Germany’s Political Economy after the Social Democratic Century, in Perspectives on Politics, Vol. 20(1), pp. 345-346.