Against the Sharing Economy

In the first of our Ethos Debate Club series, we kicked off the evening with a discussion on the sharing economy. Ethos director Patrick Hurley spoke up in favour of the sharing economy and the empowerment it offers; journalist Toby Hood spoke pointed out its potential for exploitation. But who do you most agree with?
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09.11.15
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Debate 1: What’s the Sharing Economy all about, really? Is it about sharing or selfishness?

We should stop calling it the sharing economy.

Aside from bringing with it precarious working conditions and minimal career prospects, the Sharing Economy is based on selfish principles and exploits the unemployed class in an ultra-competitive environment. If human nature is fixed and immutable, it is difficult to imagine a truly shared economy.

The phrasing is oxymoronic; in a system where everything is shared, anyone is free to take without giving in return. It goes without saying how particular sharing markets have already been manipulated by self-interest. Corporations have resolutely swooped in at the first whiff of franchising; masquerading as grassroots, budget service providers they are taxing our community values in the name of social enterprise. Thus, brands like Uber and Air BnB are little more than brokers for today’s penny-pinching proletariat.

When we apply strict economic theory to the idea, we would see that only a few economies of scale are parallel to the rate of economies of sharing. What this actually means is that the more individuals involved in the Sharing Economy, the higher the profit margins of a few dominant businesspeople. If the sharing economy is to be a free market, how do so few companies reap all the custom?

 

Read Patrick’s argument in favour of the sharing economy here…

The next Ethos Debate Club will take place on Thursday 12 November in Launch 22 on Tithebarn Street in Liverpool. If you’d like to come along, you can find tickets here.