Nuanced examination of Sharing

By Adam Parsons on open democracy.net 

The business community may be enthusing about the immense market size and profitability of the big corporate players that espouse sharing as part of their brand identity, but not everyone is convinced that the sharing economy is living up to its visionary rhetoric and aspirations. Far from promoting communitarian values, providing an answer to overconsumption or increasing social equity, for example, a growing number of critics attest that sharing-oriented business models are taking us in the opposite direction – by undercutting unionised labour, benefitting from unfair competition, encouraging de-regulated and precarious employment, and even robbing cities of vital public money. Many people are also questioning whether these new business ventures have co-opted or subverted the original conception of community-based sharing, considering that they charge money for a service and are effectively renting skills or assets.

Is the sharing economy really a ‘dumb term that deserves to die’, or does this moment of hyperbole give us reason to pause and consider what sharing actually means in relation to the big questions of our time?

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