Analysing What An Uber Partner Is & The Controversy – LearnMate

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Hey guys,

Over the past week, I’ve noticed a couple of observations peculiar to formal language (Unit 3 AOS 2) – which may help you with your essay!

Uber Partners

On May 18th, Uber became officially legalised in Melbourne after a precedent was set. Upon watching this on TV, I noticed how Uber calls it’s independent contractors ‘partners’. But are these ‘contractors’ really ‘partners’ in the traditional sense of the word?

As many linguists will tell you, language has the powerful ability to alter your perceptions of reality. Uber is aiming to promote a more socially inclusive image (that of youthfulness and vibrancy), therefore calling their contractors ‘partners’ can ultimately help to promote this perceived image. The definition of a partner in the context of business can be seen below:

a person associated with another or others as a principal or a contributor of capital in a business or a joint venture, usually sharing its risks and profits.

What is working in Uber’s favour here is CONNOTATIONS. Yes, connotations. In terms of denotation (dictionary meaning), Uber ‘partners’ are not really partners – they are in factor-independent contractors (in a business context), however, ‘contractor’ doesn’t have a very positive connotation (it would be neutral or somewhat negative). It doesn’t imply inclusivity, rather than of detachment – when you hire a contractor, they’re not really part of the business, they simply complete work on behalf of the business.

Partners, on the other hand, has positive connotations – that of inclusivity and collaboration.


Racism in Australia?

They won’t be numerate or literate in their own language, let alone English. These people would be taking Australian jobs, there’s no question about that. For many of them that would be unemployed, they would languish in unemployment queues and on Medicare and the rest of it so there would be huge cost and there’s no sense in sugar-coating that, that’s the scenario.

The quote above was said by Immigration Minister Peter Dutton. Could that be construed as racist? What is your opinion? As linguists, we need to take an objective approach to this, no subjective. What I mean by that is try not to come to an answer based on your political views (whether you support Liberal or Labor).
This quote undoubtedly caused a backlash by much of the Australia community. You can find more info about it here: 
Let’s try and look at the linguistic choices he makes to come to a conclusion.
  • Notice the use of exclusive language (for many of them they would languish… these people…)
    • In terms of lexicology, these personal pronouns create a sense of ‘us and them’ – social exclusivity
  • Notice the use of ‘Australian jobs’ – why did he have to explicitly say ‘Australian’?, couldn’t have he just said ‘jobs’? Again, it comes back to this sense of social exclusion – by labelling that the jobs are Australian (obviously), he appeals to the current population’s sense of security and stability.

Now, whatever your conclusion is, or if there is any truth or untruth to it, it’s obvious that Peter Dutton was trying to create social exclusion towards these groups – the complete opposite of multiculturalism.

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Analysing What An Uber Partner Is & The Controversy – LearnMate