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A vehicle for valorising the labour power of commuting: The politics of mobility fixing in Shanghai's Dockless Public Bike Sharing Sector

Justin Spinney and Wen-I Lin

Journal of Transport Geography, 2021, vol. 94, issue C

Abstract: This paper seeks to contribute to ongoing debates around the politics of hybrid mobilities, smart cities, surveillance capitalism and mobility fixing. Based on a set of qualitative interviews with key stakeholders and secondary sources, the paper uses the emergence of dockless public bike sharing in Shanghai between 2016 and 2018 as its case study. In order to explain the emergence of dockless PBSS and illustrate our contention that this system seeks to create surplus value from the work of mobility (in this case cycle commuting), we examine the processes of valorisation that have occurred in order to both position PBSS as a worthy activity (and therefore remunerate participants affectively) and produce use values for the data generated by users. In doing so we also highlight the ways in which these processes of valorisation seek to ensure that the mobility work of users is not aligned with the products of that labour in order to avoid calls for this mobility work to be remunerated as wage labour (which would reduce any surplus value extraction). Ultimately we argue that these processes of valorisation are not only invasive, but exclusionary in that they prioritise select aspects of social practice that address matters of (governmental) concern, rather than a more rounded interpretation. We argue that there is an urgent need to recognise mobility practices beyond registers that simply prepare the ground for their marketisation.

Keywords: Mobility; Cycling; Bike sharing; Surveillance capitalism (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2021
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DOI: 10.1016/j.jtrangeo.2021.103129

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