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Dependence and Precarity in the “Sharing” Economy

The sharing economy was supposed to change the world. So-called “collaborative consumption” would encourage social connection, use assets more efficiently, and reduce ecological footprints. Sharing economy platforms have indeed disrupted whole industries and changed the way we do business. But the most important impacts of the sharing economy may be its unintended consequences rather than its ambitious intentions – especially for workers, the way they interact with employers and consumers, and the inequities they face. Using interviews with earners on Airbnb, TaskRabbit, Uber, Lyft, Postmates, and Favor, Schor examines the experiences of workers as they navigate the sharing economy.

Discussants: Annette Bernhardt, IRLE’s Labor Center, and Ruth Berins Collier, UC Berkeley Political Science

Location forthcoming.

Juliet Schor is a sociologist at Boston College and a member of the MacArthur Foundation Connected Learning Research Network. Her work has focused on consumer society, sustainable consumption, new economies, and overwork. A former Guggenheim Fellow, she has served as a consultant to the United Nations.

Ruth Berins Collier is a professor in UC Berkeley’s political science department. Her research, across Latin America, Africa, and Europe, has focused on forms of popular participation, political regime and regime change, and labor politics.

Annette Bernhardt directs the Low-Wage Work Program at the IRLE’s Labor Center. She has been a leader in collaborating with immigrant worker centers and unions to develop innovative models of community-based research. Her current research focuses on domestic outsourcing, the gig economy, and the impact of new technologies on low- wage work.