Does the “Sharing Economy” promote economic democracy or only replaces one form of capital control with another?
Uber is one of the symbols of the “Sharing Economy”. It is both a positive example – it provides a service many find useful; helps reducing costs of living; allows extra income for non-professional drivers; encourages shared use of privet cars, thus perhaps diminishes the total number of privet vehicles, and it is also a negative example – it compromises workers’ rights; lacks in safety measures for passengers; it’s indifferent towards drivers’ capacity requirements and public transportation planning and more.
This paper would like to sugge
st a theoretical characterization of the differences between cooperatives and privately owned ‘sharing economy’ businesses that lack the components of shared ownership and democratic control. It would characterize how would a business like Uber might look like if it were a cooperative, from perspectives of: workers’ rights, environmental considerations and other aspects of public policy.
The paper would suggest that although the sharing economy has its merits, both in reducing costs of living and in contributing to public awareness to the advantages of cooperation, it does not change the economic system.
It could be argued that sharing economy platforms are one of the major resource of our time – thus added to what ownership of land represented in the agrarian times and control of means of production is since the industrial revolution.
The paper would suggest if those platforms would not develop into pubic/members’ owned and democratically controlled enterprises they would only replace one form of capital control with another.