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The Temporality of and Competition between Infrastructures

Taxis and E-Hailing in China

Jack Linzhou Xing

Abstract

This article examines the competition between taxis and e-hailing from the perspective of the temporality of infrastructures, which refers to 1) decay and maintenance of infrastructures, 2) imaginations of infrastructures regarding old, new, past, and future, and 3) the (spatio)temporal experience of infrastructure supporters. I propose that taxis and e-hailing are simultaneously transport and livelihood infrastructures that facilitate passengers’ and drivers’ lives, and that they are maintained by the two parties. One reason that taxis are maintained in this competition lies in taxi drivers’ preference for taxis as a livelihood infrastructure. The article highlights infrastructure supporters’ labor and spatiotemporal experience, emphasizes the importance of the perspective of the decay and maintenance of infrastructures, and proposes a dialectic view of the infrastructure-related imaginations of old and new, especially in a context in which disruptive innovations in infrastructural technologies are continuously emerging.