The Sharing Economy is an interesting concept. I think that we all have been participating in a sharing economy for a long time, and we continue to every day. Most of the sharing that we do on a day to day basis is with people we have personal relationships with. I lend my baking pans to my friends and I borrow dresses from other friends. We do this so that we do not have to buy and store our own. In a community such as Bucknell, it is easy to partake in these transactions because it is easy to get to one another. I can walk from my dorm to any other dorm on campus in order to borrow whatever I need to use.
The more formal Sharing Economy has gotten started because of the availability of technology. It is now easy to post what you want to share online, and find someone who wants to borrow it, often paying a sum of money. These transactions are often made between strangers, taking out the personal aspect of sharing. I also think that this process has undermined a very important part of sharing, and that is the reason for sharing. Since I was little, my parents have always taught me that I should share because it is the right thing to do. I should share with people who do not have the same things that I do. In the Sharing Economy, sharing has become a way to make money.
There is an ethical problem to the Sharing Economy. Some people use the resources in the Sharing Economy because they cannot afford to buy their own products. The Sharing Economy takes advantage of these people by charging them for one time use of products. It is related to the issues of interest bearing loans that we discussed in the Kiva case. These markets take advantage of people who cannot afford what we have by making them pay to use our resources, whether they are sharing products or money.
Yes, I think there are good things that come out of the Sharing Economy. It can reduce waste and make use of idling goods, but I think for it to be a true Sharing Economy, the actors in the system need to be less selfish.