Accepted paper:

Working as a livery driver in New York: immigrants and the neoliberal city


Christian Krohn-Hansen (University of Oslo)

Paper short abstract:

This paper will discuss the work activities and the survival strategies of Dominican cab drivers in New York City.

Paper long abstract:

New York City has three categories of taxis: the familiar yellow taxis, "livery cabs", and "black cars". Black-car services are primarily used by corporate clients. Livery cabs offer most of the taxi services outside Manhattan's central and lower areas. A large proportion of the city's over 40,000 livery cabs are currently owned and driven by Dominicans. In Upper Manhattan and in the Bronx, Dominican immigrants completely dominate the industry. The basic entity in the industry is "la base" or "the base", the livery-car service operation that includes a certain number of drivers. The bases have been, and remain, precarious operations - a means of survival. Groups of men have pooled resources and cooperated to secure a livelihood. In my paper, I will discuss the activities of these Dominican labour migrants and their bases. Central questions will be: How do these Dominican cab drivers secure a living? What characterizes their daily rhythms? How do they think about, and represent, their work? What characterizes the organization of the bases? What is the bases' history? In sum, a main objective will be to explore and demonstrate the significance, and the effects, of these migrants' labour forms and highly fragile business ventures. A process that has helped transform American cities since the 1970s has been the nation's emphatic turn toward neoliberalism - and in the paper I will therefore seek to briefly place the history of the Dominican labour migration and the Dominican livery bases in a wider (global) history of important political-economic changes.

panel P30
The uncertain bodily relations of contemporary economic practice