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An Uber Ethical Dilemma: Examining The Social Issues At Stake

Florence M. Chee

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Purpose This paper aims to engage with the social issues emerging from the increasing reliance upon app-driven services, as they pertain to precarious labor and ethical standpoints in a digital era. Popular ride services such as Uber have been lauded for bringing much needed transportation services that are superior to expensive taxis or unpleasant or inaccessible public transit. Design/methodology/approach As a result of over three years of ongoing research and analysis, this paper is a comprehensive assessment of a number of social issues facing the integration of practices both signified and enacted in an economy driven by apps such as Uber. While these companies are indeed profitable, questions remain as to just how much of a panacea these practices actually herald. Findings Findings indicate that privatization and a lack of labor regulation may present a significant savings to the user, but full cost economics suggest that the social and environmental costs require consideration. Research limitations/implications The recommendations here refer to the ethical considerations forwarded in this paper and serve to open up dialog to further discuss the persistent issues facing a precarious future. Practical implications In terms of practical implications, there is a point of tension between governmental/regulatory bodies, disruptive innovators and users. Social implications Stakeholders of all stripes are scrambling to keep up with the pace and problematics of digital innovations and an inclusive critical dialog on app-driven services has yet to become a priority. Originality/value The original value of this analytical framework from a social justice perspective stands to catalyze action on a number of pervasive social issues surrounding digital ethics and policy.