Srujana Katta

Grant Type

Engaged Research Grant

Institutional Affiliation

Oxford, U. of

Grant number

Gr. ERG-12

Approve Date

February 4, 2022

Project Title

Katta, Srujana (Oxford, U. of) "Precarity to Power: Work and Organising in the Ride-hailing Economy in Hyderabad"

This research project investigates the working lives and aspirations of app-based ride-hail workers (e.g. Uber and Ola drivers) in the South Indian city of Hyderabad, in order to derive a locally-grounded agenda for worker justice in the platform economy, and develop instructive insights for activists and workers leading the charge. This project is a collaborative venture between a platform work researcher and an app-based driver and activist from Hyderabad. It employs a qualitative, mixed-methods approach comprising participant observations of ride-hail work and organising, in-depth interviews with app-based drivers and organisers, and oral history interviews of leading labour activists. The project’s overarching sociopolitical aim is to build worker power in Hyderabad by: (1) raising awareness among the city’s app-based drivers about the extant forms of labour organising and support for workers, (2) identifying the vulnerabilities that workers face and their aspirations for their working lives, and (3) creating a pipeline for their concerns and visions to feed into union organising. Situated within the broader tradition of activist anthropological research, the project’s academic aims are to make contributions to the anthropologies of work and unions in the Global South and to advance methodological debates on engaged research within labour studies.