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Myths of the Sharing Economy: Drivers of and Barriers to Real Sharing Practices

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Type: Conference Paper
Author: Calcagni, Fulvia; Lipschutz, Ronnie; Bontempi, Antonio
Conference: Practicing the Commons: Self-Governance, Cooperation and Institutional Change
Location: Utrecht, the Netherlands
Conf. Date: 10-14 July
Date: 2017
URI: https://hdl.handle.net/10535/10363
Sector: Social Organization
Subject(s): economy
Abstract: "Since the early 2000s, when the term 'sharing economy' started spreading, it has gained momentum worldwide, in cities of every size and among people with different social cultures and practices. Today, the sharing economy is seen to comprise a big share of a growing market that is expected to increase exponentially in the near future. Digital technologies, in particular, facilitate reduction of market barriers and increases in the scale and efficiency of exchanges through online platforms that today, it is often claimed, constitute an answer to many needs in our lives. Notwithstanding definitions of the sharing economy based on concepts such as collaboration, common resources, reciprocity, and access-based ownership, the lack of a common definition and a legislative framework raise questions about the sector’s contribution to a just and sustainable societal transition. This work analyses and compares several sharing practices, in two phases. First, sharing economy platforms are analysed according to pre-defined indicators in order to describe existing sharing practices, identify alternatives to the current sharing economy and highlight what impedes or drives diffusion of these practices, from a social, economic and environmental perspectives. Second, three types of sharing communities are conceptualized and described according to their sharing patterns. The selection of platforms, types of community and indicators is based on literature reviews and expert interviews. In addition, public opinions from a “Practice sharing” World Café in Santa Cruz, CA, are offered here, and the sharing communities or platforms found in that city are listed according to the previous definitions and differences. This study frames a comprehensive methodology for analysing and distinguishing several examples of sharing practices and highlights values and counter-values related to them. Our results show how these practices influence society, the economy and the environment, and could constitute a relevant factor in addressing behaviour change in relation to sustainability."

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