Does the App Contribute to the Precarization of Work? The Case of Uber Drivers in Poland


As new forms of employment like the work in the gig economy become a norm around the world, it becomes necessary to study the nature of this employment and its impact on workers. The aim of this article is to describe the individual experiences of Uber drivers in the context of precarious work, and to examine the impact of this online platform on their work. It is based on individual in-depth interviews conducted among Uber drivers in Poland in 20181. The results of the study show that the work they perform can be characterized as precarious: they work long hours (also at night and on holidays), they have low income (especially in relation to the number of working hours) and lack social or trade union protection; they also often work without employment contracts. On the other hand, however, they have a positive view of their working situation using the app.

DOI Code: 10.1285/i20356609v12i3p717

Keywords: individual in-depth interview; precariat; precarious work; platform work; Uber


Adriaanse M. (2016), “Profits and Precarity: Uber and the Crisis of Work”, Working Paper, Leiden University, 1–15.

Arcidiacono D., A. Gandini, I. Pais (2018), “Sharing our way into the future”, The Sociological Review, 66(2):466-471.

Armano E., A. Murgia (2017), “Hybrid Areas of Work in Italy: Hypotheses to Interpret the Transformations of Precariousness and Subjectivity”, in E. Armano, A. Bove, A. Murgia (eds.), Mapping Precariousness, Labour Insecurity and Uncertain Livelihoods: Subjectivities and Resistance, Routledge, pp. 47–59.

Barbier J-C., A. Brygoo, and F. Viguier (2002), Defining and Assessing Precarious Employment in Europe: A Review of Main Studies and Surveys. A Tentative Approach to Precarious Employment in France, ESOPE Project.

Belk R. (2007) “Why Not Share Rather Than Own?”, The ANNALS of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, 611:126-140.

Belk R. (2014) “Sharing Versus Pseudo-Sharing in Web 2.0”, The Anthropologist, 18(1):7-23.

Belk R. (2017) “Sharing without caring”, Cambridge Journal of Regions, Economy and Society, 10: 249–261.

Berg J., M. Furrer, E. Harmon, U. Rani, M. Silberman (2018), Digital Labour Platforms and the Future of Work: Towards Decent Work in the Online World, Geneva: International Labour Organization.

Berger T., C. Frey, G. Levin, S. Danda (2018), “Uber Happy? Work and Well-Being in the ‘Gig Economy’”, Working paper to be presented at the 68th Panel Meeting of Economic Policy. Frey_Berger_UBER.pdf.

Bosmans K., S. Hardonk, N. De Cuyper, F. Louckx (2016), “Expert Views on the Manifestations of Precarious Employment in Flanders”, Interface Demography Working Paper, Vrije Universiteit Brussel 3:1–21.

Bröckling U. (2005), “Gendering the enterprising self”, Distinktion: Scandinavian Journal of Social Theory, 6(2): 7-25.

Burrows S. (2013), “Precarious Work, Neo-Liberalism and Young People’s Experiences of Employment in the Illawarra Region”, The Economic and Labour Relations Review, 24(3):380–96.

Butler J. (2006), Precarious Life. The Powers of Mourning and Violence, London: Verso.

Campbell I., R. Price (2016), “Precarious Work and Precarious Workers: Towards an Improved Conceptualisation”, The Economic and Labour Relations Review, 27(3):314–32.

Carpagnano M. (2018), "The ECJ’s Ruling on Uber: A New Room for Regulating Sharing Platforms?", Italian Antitrust Review, 5(1): 121-133

CBOS. (2017), Działalność związków zawodowych w Polsce. Report no. 87. Warsaw: CBOS.

Chen M., M. Sheldon (2016), “Dynamic Pricing in a Labor Market: Surge Pricing and Flexible Work on the Uber Platform”, Proceedings of the 2016 ACM Conference on Economics and Computation, 1–19.

Codagnone Ch., F. Biagi, F. Abadie (2016), The Passions and the Interests: Unpacking the 'Sharing Economy', Institute for Prospective Technological Studies, JRC Science for Policy Report EUR 27914 E.

Coyle D. (2017), “Precarious and Productive Work in the Digital Economy”, National Institute Economic Review, 240(1):5–14.

Cramer J., A. Krueger (2016), “Disruptive Change in the Taxi Business: The Case of Uber”, American Economic Review: Papers & Proceedings, 106(5):177–82.

Crespo Y. (2016), “Uber v. Regulation: ‘Ride-Sharing’ Creates a Legal Grey Area”, University of Miami Business Law Review, 25(1):79–110.

Degryse Ch. (2017), “Shaping the World of Work in the Digital Economy”, Retrieved February 15, 2019 /file/Foresight+brief_01_EN_web.pdf.

Dorre K. (2014), “Precarity and Social Disintegration: A Relational Concept”, Journal Für Entwicklungspolitik, 30: 69-89.

Dörre K., K. Kraemer, F. Speidel (2006), “The Increasing Precariousness of the Employment Society: Driving Force for a New Right Wing Populism?”, International Journal of Action Research, 2(1):98–128.

Drache D., A. LeMesurier, Y. Noiseux (2015), Non-Standard Employment, The Jobs Crisis and Precarity: A Report on the Structural Transformation of the World of Work. Montreal.

Drahokoupil J., B. Fabo (2016), “The Platform Economy and the Disruption of the Employment Relationship”, ETUI Policy Brief European Economic, Employment and Social Policy, 5(1):2–5.

Dubal V.B. (2017), “The Drive to Precarity: A Political History of Work, Regulation, & Labor Advocacy in San Francisco’s Taxi & Uber Economies”, Berkeley Journal of Employment & Labor Law, 38(1):75–135.

European Commission. (2018). “The use of collaborative platforms”, Flash Eurobarometer, 467.

Fabo, B., Beblavý, M., Kilhoffer, Z., Lenaerts, K. (2017), An Overview of European Platforms: Scope and Business Models, Joint Research Centre: Science for Policy Report, European Commission.

Flores O., L. Rayle (2017), “How Cities Use Regulation for Innovation: The Case of Uber, Lyft and Sidecar in San Francisco”, Transportation Research Procedia, 25: 3760–72.

Foucault M. (2008), The Birth of Biopolitics. Lectures at the Collège de France, 1978-1979. Palgrave Macmillan.

Forde Ch., M. Stuart, S. Joyce, L. Oliver, D. Valizade, G. Alberti, K. Hardy, V. Trappmann, Ch. Umney, C. Carson (2017), The Social Protection of Workers in the Platform Economy. European Parliament.

Gierten D. (2016), “New Forms of Work in the Digital Economy”, Report: Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, OECD.

Gillespie T. (2010), “The Politics of ‘Platforms’”, New Media and Society, 12 (3):347–64.

Hall J., A. Krueger (2017), “An Analysis of the Labor Market for Uber’s Driver-Partners in the United States”, ILR Review, 71 (3):705–32.

Hardy J. (2015), “The Institutional, Structural and Agential Embeddedness of Precarity: An Engagement with Guy Standing”, Warsaw Forum of Economic Sociology, 1(11):7–24.

Hewison K., A. Kalleberg (2013), “Precarious Work and Flexibilization in South and Southeast Asia”, American Behavioral Scientist, 57 (4):395–402.

Hua J., K. Ray (2018), “Beyond the Precariat: Race, Gender, and Labor in the Taxi and Uber Economy”, Social Identities, 24 (2):271–89.

Huang J., F. Majid, M. Daku (2019), “Estimating Effects of Uber Ride-Sharing Service on Road Traffic-Related Deaths in South Africa: A Quasi-Experimental Study”, Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, 73(3):263-271.

Huws U., N. Spencer, S. Joyce (2016), “Crowd Work in Europe.” Foundation for European Progressive Studies, 58.

Jamil R., Y. Noiseux (2018), “Shake That Moneymaker: Insights from Montreal’s Uber Drivers”, Revue Interventions Économiques, 60: 0–30.

Kalleberg A. (2009), “Precarious Work, Insecure Workers: Employment Relations in Transition”, American Sociological Review, 74 (1):1–22.

Kalleberg A. (2014), “Measuring Precarious Work”, A Working Paper of the EINet Measurement Group.

Kashyap R., A. Bhatia (2018), “Taxi Drivers and Taxidars: A Case Study of Uber and Ola in Delhi”, Journal of Developing Societies, 34 (2):1–26.

Lobel O. (2016). “The Law of the Platform”, Minnesota Law Review, 16-212: 87–166.

Lorey I. (2006). “Governmentality and Self-Precarization: On the Normalization of Cultural Producers”, Transversal 1,

Lorey I. (2015), State of Insecurity: Governement of the Precarious, London: Verso

Malin B., C. Chandler (2017), “Free to Work Anxiously: Splintering Precarity Among Drivers for Uber and Lyft”, Communication, Culture and Critique, 10 (2):382–400.

Marino S., M. Bernaciak, A. Mrozowicki, V. Pulignano (2019), “Unions for Whom? Union Democracy and Precarious Workers in Poland and Italy”, Economic and Industrial Democracy, 40 (1): 111-131.

Martins, P. (2019), “Sharing economy, competition and regulation: the case of Uber in the case-law of the Court of Justice of the European Union”, UNIO - EU Law Journal, 5(1): 54-67.

McKee D. (2017), “The Platform Economy: Natural, Neutral, Consensual and Efficient?”, Transnational Legal Theory, 8 (4): 455–95.

Mira d’Ercole, M. and M. MacDonald (2018), “Measuring platform and other new forms of work: Issues paper”, 15th meeting of the Committee on Statistics and Statistical Policy (CSSP), OECD internal document, 10, Paris.

Muntaner C. (2018), “Digital Platforms, Gig Economy, Precarious Employment, and the Invisible Hand of Social Class”, International Journal of Health Services, 48 (4):597–600.

Murgia A., G. Selmi (2012), “‘Inspire and Conspire’: Italian Precarious Workers between Self-Organization and Self-Advocacy”, Interface: A Journal for and about Social Movements, 4 (2):181–96.

Owczarek D. (2018), Don’t Gig Up! Extending Social Protection to Gig Workers in Poland: State of the Art Report. Warsaw: Instytut Spraw Publicznych

Peticca-Harris A., N. DeGama, M. N. Ravishankar (2018), “Postcapitalist Precarious Work and Those in the ‘Drivers’ Seat: Exploring the Motivations and Lived Experiences of Uber Drivers in Canada”, Organization, 1–24.

Petriglieri G., S. J. Ashford, A. Wrzesniewski (2018), “Agony and Ecstasy in the Gig Economy: Cultivating Holding Environments for Precarious and Personalized Work Identities”, Administrative Science Quarterly, 1–47.

Prassl J., M. Risak (2015), “Uber, Taskrabbit, & Co: Platforms as Employers? Rethinking the Legal Analysis of Crowdwork”, Comparative Labor Law & Policy Journal, 37 (3): 690.

Pulignano V., L. Gervasi, F. de Franceschi (2016), “Union Responses to Precarious Workers: Italy and Spain Compared”, European Journal of Industrial Relations, 22(1): 39–55.

Rodgers G., J. Rodgers (1989), Precarious Jobs in Labour Market Regulation: The Growth of Atypical Employment in Western Europe. Geneva.

Rosenblat A., L. Stark (2016), “Algorithmic Labor and Information Asymmetries: A Case Study of Uber’s Drivers”, International Journal of Communication, 10:3758–3784.

Rosenblat A. (2018), Uberland: How Algorithms Are Rewriting the Rules of Work, Oakland, California: University of California Press.

Savage M., F. Devine, N. Cunningham, M. Taylor, Y. Li, J. Hjellbrekke, B. Le Roux, S. Friedman, A. Miles (2013), “A New Model of Social Class? Findings from the BBC’s Great British Class Survey Experiment”, Sociology, 47(2):219–50.

Shipler D. (2005), The Working Poor: Invisible in America. New York: Vintage

Srnicek N. (2017), Platform Capitalism. Cambridge: Polity.

Statistics Poland (2019), Labour market in 2017. Warsaw: GUS.

Standing G. (2011), The Precariat: The New Dangerous Class. London, New York: Bloomsbury Academic.

Stefano V. (2015), “The Rise of the ‘Just-in-Time Workforce’: On-Demand Work, Crowd Work and Labour Protection in the ‘Gig-Economy’”, SSRN Electronic Journal, 71.

Sundararajan A. (2016), The Sharing Economy: The End of Employment and the Rise of Crowd-Based Capitalism. Cambridge and London: The MIT Press.

Strauss A., B. Glaser (2017), The Discovery of Grounded Theory: Strategies for Qualitative Research, London and New York: Routledge.

Surie A., J. Koduganti (2016), “The Emerging Nature of Work in Platform Economy Companies in Bengaluru, India: The Case of Uber and Ola Cab Drivers”, E-Journal of International and Comparative Labour Studies, 5 (3).

Tucker E. (2017), “Uber and the Unmaking and Remaking of Taxi Capitalisms: Technology, Law and Resistance in Historical Perspective”, Osgoode Legal Studies Research Paper, 38: 1–23.

Vosko L. (2006), “Precarious Employment: Towards an Improved Understanding of Labour Market Insecurity”, in L. Vosko (ed.), Precarious Employment: Understanding Labour Market Insecurity in Canada, Montreal and Kingston: McGill-Queen’s University Press.

Wright E. (2016), “Is the Precariat a Class?”, Global Labour Journal, 7(2):123–35.

Zwick A. (2018), “Welcome to the Gig Economy: Neoliberal Industrial Relations and the Case of Uber”, GeoJournal, 83(4):679–91.

Full Text: PDF


  • There are currently no refbacks.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribuzione - Non commerciale - Non opere derivate 3.0 Italia License.