BUILDING A LEGACY OF INEQUALITY INTO THE FUTURE OF FOR-HIRE TRANSIT FROM THE HACKNEY HORSE TO THE AUTONOMOUS TAXI
This dissertation explores the emergence of ride-for-hire technology and how is has consistently been built into structuring unequal access to society in ways that will inhibit emerging technology like the autonomous taxi from providing equal or equitable access in the ways it is being promised. Separated into 10 chapters and a preface, the trajectory of this dissertation starts in the present, documenting current use of for-hire systems. It then travels back to the origins of these systems of transportation, progressing through time to formative moments in the industry to demonstrate how they continue to become incorporated into existing but unequal societal structures. I establish that for-hire transit has long been the province of elite travel and thus can be understood as a communication of the priorities of dominant sectors of society. I show how these structures are built atop one another as new and evolving systems of for-hire transportation emerge. Though each emergence comes with promises of emancipation through equal, equitable, or accessible transit, that promise is never realized as capability and complications around access are folded into these emergent systems, adapting to an unequal society as it is, and not the vision of some more equal society as it can be. Finally, I emphasize that this is not a problem of the past. By considering the emergence of new for-hire systems called ridehail, and documenting tensions in emerging technology of the autonomous taxi, I show how new systems remain bound to problems of unequal access because they are modeled after and work amongst systems that have been designed to regulate access to society unequally. Thus, emergent technologies such as the autonomous taxi, like its forbearers, can never achieve their promises of more accessible, equal, or equitable access without building in an awareness not only of the unequal structures they may help reinforce, but also the unequal access they may unknowingly perpetuate. Overcoming these issues then cannot be solved by merely the deployment of more efficient or safe technologies without also addressing tensions in material, social, and regulatory landscapes upon which for-hire transit relies and in turn are relied upon.
Anthropology; Autonomouns Vehicles; Media History; Structural Inequality; Taxi History; Urban Ethnography
Lewenstein, Bruce V.
Byrne, Sahara E.; Gillespie, Tarleton L.; Ziewitz, Malte
Ph. D., Communication
Doctor of Philosophy
Attribution 4.0 International
dissertation or thesis
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