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Sharing Economy – The Space for Sharing or Consuming?

The paper “Sharing Economy – The Space for Sharing or Consuming?” by Orsolya Lazányi, Fanni Bársony and Tamás Veress was published in Hungarian in Tér és Társadalom (Vol. 34, 2020, No. 2. pp. 67–87).

In their paper the authors problematize the self-contradictory nature of the sharing economy. “Sharing” implies a community of close others and reciprocal relations, while the term “economy” points to market mechanisms among distant others with a distinct set of ethics and social norms. The spread of digital technologies enables the emergence of various interactions and relationships not only among community members but also among geographically distant people across the globe. Historically “sharing” stands for non-acquisitory, reciprocal exchanges; but many scholars qualify short term leasing/borrowing of unused assets (such as apartments, rooms, cars, work,
etc.) as sharing.

The labeling of commercial activities – for example in the case of platforms like Uber (car), Airbnb (accommodation), TaskRabbit (work) – displays the phenomena of market overreach, by co-opting sharing. The authors argue that sharing has to be protected against market forces. Otherwise commercial activities can crowdout and/or dominate reciprocal interactions. The ethos of commons can be cultivated to help communities when designing spaces for sharing.