Regulating Uber: The Politics of the Platform Economy in Europe and the United States
by Kathleen Thelen, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
I use the case of the transportation network company Uber as a lens to explore the comparative politics of the platform economy in Europe and the United States. Within the advanced capitalist world, different countries have responded in very different ways to this new service, from welcome embrace and accommodating regulatory adjustments to complete rejection and legal bans. I analyze Uber’s arrival and reception in the United States, Germany, and Sweden, documenting three very different responses to this disruptive new actor. I show that conflicts over Uber centered on different issues in the three countries. These differences were consequential because the specific regulatory “flashpoints”that Uber provoked mobilized different actors, inspired the formation of different coalitions, and shaped the terms on which conflicts over Uber were framed and fought.