The Disruptive Economy Episode 1

The Sharing Economy

By
Eric Newcomer

“The sharing economy” is a sobriquet to warm hearts. Think of it as a claim that while grubbier businesspeople sell, buy and rent, the ones in the sharing economy collaborate, facilitate, build trust. Or so they say. Sharing-economy flag-bearers like Uber, Airbnb and Homejoy give people easy, cheap access to products and services that would otherwise go unused, free of the burdens of ownership. Their fans say this brings social benefits like community building and diminished inequality. Skeptics predict that it’s more likely to lower wages, raise housing costs, undermine health and safety rules and expose women to harassment and assault. A 2015 Harvard Business Review headline had this to say: “The Sharing Economy Isn’t About Sharing at All.”

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