Juliet SchorJul 17, 2023
After the Gig
How the Sharing Economy Got Hijacked and How to Win It Back
University of California Press 2021
When the "sharing economy" launched a decade ago, proponents claimed that it would transform the experience of work--giving earners flexibility, autonomy, and a decent income. It was touted as a cure for social isolation and rampant ecological degradation. But this novel form of work soon sprouted a dark side: exploited Uber drivers, neighborhoods ruined by Airbnb, racial discrimination, and rising carbon emissions. Several of the most prominent platforms are now faced with existential crises as they prioritize growth over fairness and long-term viability.
Nevertheless, the basic model--a peer-to-peer structure augmented by digital tech--holds the potential to meet its original promises. Based on nearly a decade of pioneering research, After the Gig: How the Sharing Economy Got Hijacked and How to Win It Back (U California Press, 2021) dives into what went wrong with this contemporary reimagining of labor. The book examines multiple types of data from thirteen cases to identify the unique features and potential of sharing platforms that prior research has failed to pinpoint. Juliet B. Schor presents a compelling argument that we can engineer a reboot: through regulatory reforms and cooperative platforms owned and controlled by users, an equitable and truly shared economy is still possible.
Juliet B. Schor is an American economist and Sociology Professor at Boston College. She has studied trends in working time, consumerism, the relationship between work and family, women's issues and economic inequality, and concerns about climate change in the environment. She is a New York Times bestselling author and the Chair of the Board of Directors of the Better Future Project.
Tom Discenna is Professor of Communication at Oakland University whose work examines issues of academic labor and communicative labor more broadly.