Blog 5

Hope for the “New” Sharing Economy?


This past September, KCRW released a podcast called “The Rise of the Sharing Economy.” During the podcast, a variety of individuals discuss the “new” idea of a sharing economy, also referred to as a peer-to-peer economy or collaborative consumption. The major benefit of a sharing economy is that it allows people to use products and services without actually owning them. Recently, it seems, entrepreneurs have been promoting this concept of sharing through businesses such as Airbnb, Zip Cars, and Cookening—just to name a few. One of the questions the podcast raises, however, is whether or not this concept really is new.

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In my opinion, it is not new at all; it has simply gained more popularity and has expanded to be the basis of many new business ideas. I agree with a couple of the speakers on the podcast in that sharing is something the human species has been doing for quite some time. We share with friends, we share with family members, we share with classmates…and the list goes on. Why should we not share with other people in our communities or across the world?

Even though this is not a new idea, I do believe it requires humans to instill a great deal of trust in one another. For example, one of the speakers brings up the dangers that could potentially occur in a business model such as Airbnb, since hosts do not know the people who are spending the night at their homes. On the other hand, Derek Thompson from The Atlantic responds to this by saying that dangerous situations occur rarely, and they are just as likely to occur at a standard hotel. This reasoning supports another idea brought up in the podcast; people have to trust each other in a sharing economy, but they also have to trust each other in the capitalist economy. The chance of something dangerous or bizarre occurring is so slim, that participants in both economies are taking some sort of risk with every economic decision they make.

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Evidence shows that the sharing economy is very beneficial to individuals who would like to use products or services without actually owning them. Expanding our idea of sharing to the general public not only allows us to prevent waste, but it contributes to a sense of community. I think that if we can trust each other and have faith in the human race this could be a great way to bring people together.

Sources:

“The Rise of the Sharing Economy”

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5 thoughts on “Hope for the “New” Sharing Economy?

  1. I completely agree. There is a major issue of trust that people have to acquire in order to participate in the sharing economy. When I was abroad, I used Air B&B when I traveled to other countries. It was understood that the homeowner’s demanded a level of trust and respect for their property. Sometimes I felt that these properties were better than the hostels where we stayed.

  2. In a post-911 world, trust has been the topic of many debates. When getting on an airplane, wary travelers scan their companions with judging eyes, hoping they can trust everyone to travel safely to their destination. In this vein, companies like Air Bnb have to ensure that the places they are advertising and the people they are renting to are of the highest ratings.

    Lauren, thanks for the tip about using Air Bnb while abroad. I’ll look into that next semester!

  3. To all the above: The podcast mentioned “guilt mongering”, and collaborative consumption systems suggesting that we are, “consuming too much.” Do you believe that there is any shame in “enjoying globalized capitalism.”. Do you think our society will come to a point where we frown upon people individually owning their own possessions and not sharing?

  4. Madeline, I don’t think our society will come to a point where we frown upon people individually owning their own possessions and not sharing–especially for products that people use all the time. On the other hand, I do think more people will continue to participate in the sharing economy for certain things, such as transportation services, that they only need to utilize once in awhile. So, I don’t think our economy will move from a capitalistic one to mostly collaborative consumption; however, the idea of sharing will become more widespread and will be the basis of more and more business models.

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