The Sharing Economy: techno-dystopia or cyber-liberation?

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From 21/10/2020

Juliet Schor
The Sharing Economy: techno-dystopia or cyber-liberation?

Professor of Sociology at Boston College, member of MacArthur Foundation Connected Learning Research Networky, co-founder of the Center for a New American Dream.

LECTURE

Juliet Schor is Professor of Sociology at Boston College. Schor is also a member of the MacArthur Foundation Connected Learning Research Network. Schor’s research focuses on consumption, time use, and environmental sustainability

A graduate of Wesleyan University, Schor received her Ph.D. in economics at the University of Massachusetts. Before joining Boston College, she taught at Harvard University for 17 years, in the Department of Economics and the Committee on Degrees in Women’s Studies. In 2014 Schor received the American Sociological Association’s award for Public Understanding of Sociology.

Summary

The sharing economy emerged after the financial collapse of 2008 with an inspiring discourse of common good, promising economic opportunity and autonomy, social connection, and reductions in environmental harms. Early enthusiasm for sharing entities was fueled by techno-philia and motivated reasoning, and the co-existence of both for-profit companies and community sharing efforts under the “sharing” umbrella. However, as sharing platforms grew, a new narrative emerged, in which companies were seen as greedy, lawless, and exploitative employers degrading working conditions and causing urban pollution and dysfunction. In this talk, I will draw on a decade of research on 13 case studies of sharing entities to explain the Janus face of the “sharing economy” and how its utopian potentials might be realized.