Katie J. Wells and Kafui Attoh: Disrupting D.C. — The Rise of Uber and the Fall of the City

This event has passed.

close up of car with an Uber sign in busy street and cityscape

Uber. image / Viktor Avdeev on Unsplash


Drawing on interviews with gig workers, policymakers, Uber lobbyists, and community organizers, Katie J. Wells and Kafui Attoh demonstrate how Uber created a playbook to deal with intransigent regulators in the US and to win in the realm of local politics. Their new book, Disrupting D.C., argues that in a sea of broken transit, underemployment, and racial polarization, Uber offered a lifeline to cities. But at what cost? This is not the story of one company or one city. Instead, Disrupting D.C. offers a 360-degree view of an urban America in crisis. Uber arrived promising a new future for workers, residents, policymakers, and others. Ultimately, Uber's success and growth was never a sign of urban strength or innovation but a sign of urban weakness and low expectations about what city politics can achieve. Understanding why Uber rose reveals just how far the rest of us have fallen.


Katie J. Wells

Postdoctoral Fritz Fellow, Georgetown University

Katie Wells is a geographer who studies urban change. She writes about how tech affects the way we live in cities, and especially how we govern them. Currently, she's a postdoctoral Fritz Fellow with Georgetown University's new Tech and Society initiative. She has published findings in academic journals such as Environment and Planning A, Urban Geography, and Antipode. She has discussed the real-time impacts of her research in 100+ media stories in outlets including The Washington Post, NPR, ABC National News, CBC News, CNN, and The San Francisco Chronicle.

smiling man in a sweater

Kafui Attoh

Associate Professor of Urban Studies, CUNY School of Labor and Urban Studies

Kafui Attoh is an Associate Professor of Urban Studies at the CUNY School of Labor and Urban Studies and an affiliated faculty member of the Earth and Environmental Sciences department at the CUNY Graduate Center. He is the author of Rights in Transit: Public Transportation and the Right to the City in California's East Bay (University of Georgia Press 2019). His work on the political economy of cities and transit access for disadvantaged communities has been published in Urban Studies, New Labor Forum, and Economic Geography, among others.

Co-sponsored by the Department of Global Labor and Work in the ILR School

Also of Interest

Close overlay