Blog 5

The Ethical Issues of a Sharing Economy

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.

4 thoughts on “The Ethical Issues of a Sharing Economy

  1. The formal Sharing Economy has developed due to technology and allowing us to share with strangers over the internet. It has brought many benefits. However, I don’t think that it causes an ethical problem. The sharing provides access to resources that other may have never had access to in the past. There is no pressure to utilize the sharing economy and even though one charges a fee, the consumer is aware of this ahead of time.

  2. I don’t think this has caused an ethical problem because less wealthy individuals are being taken advantage of. I actually think this is an advantage for them, yes they are being charged for a one time use, but a one-time charge only a handful of times is much cheaper than purchasing your own car.

    It does leave a rotten feeling in your stomach because its another business practice designed to take money from individuals with a low-budget. But our society revolves around wealth and possession, and as long as that is the case we will charge people for goods and services. I don’t see a system where people can rent for free anytime in the near future.

  3. I can see where you are coming from when you say that the businesses using the concept of the sharing economy could be acting unethically by taking advantage of low-income individuals, but I agree with Andrew that this option is much better than having to purchase items on their own. I think that these people are probably grateful for these sharing businesses and most likely don’t feel taken advantage of.

  4. Is sharing with your friends the same sharing as sharing with the needy?

    Your parents taught you that the latter was a good unto itself. A self-evident end. I presume because of an ethos of caring for all people or a Christian ethic of universal love for people.

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