Open source code, Creative Commons licensed artworks, ride-sharing, co-working spaces, couch surfing… The examples of sharing economy are vast and the range of goods and services offered is ever growing.
What is Sharing Economy?
Benita Matofska from The People Who Share defines the sharing economy as follows:
The Sharing Economy is a socio-economic ecosystem built around the sharing of human, physical and intellectual resources. It includes the shared creation, production, distribution, trade and consumption of goods and services by different people and organisations.
People in sharing economy
People are at and the heart of sharing economy. They are the makers, collaborators, producers and distributors. They are also the consumers and people make contracts with each other. This is very much based on trust. (More about this in a minute.) There is a big emphasis on cooperation and everyone can try out their skills. For example, people from all around the globe can collaborate on open source code at Github. All that matters is the quality of their code. Then again, providing and/or using local services is also important to many. For example, carpooling is an effective way to reduce the carbon footprint.
In sharing economy, access to products and services is often better than ownership. The carpooling example works here but you can also think about your local library. Or your local pub offering people chess boards and games to play while spending their time there. Cities around the globe offer city bikes for rent. Millions of people stream music, movies and TV shows instead of buying physical CDs or DVDs.
Sharing economy and trust
Lending things to others takes trust. As Rachel Botsman stated in her 2012 Ted Talk, The currency of the new economy is trust. Danielle Sacks points this out in her excellent Fast Company article of Sharing Economy, stating that the biggest worry everyone has with sharing is, indeed, trust. Letting someone use your car or sleep at your place is not a small thing. The solution to this is, most often, people self-policing each other. Sharing platforms ask you to create a profile and verify your identity. Then others can give you comments and ratings, which are visible to all. These communities usually create their own policies and expect people to follow them. If they do not, the rating and reputation system will push them away from the community.
The benefits of sharing economy
In 2015, a study (PDF) investigated people’s motivations to take part in Collaborative Consumption. Among other things, sustainability, enjoyment of the activity and economic gains motivated people.
While financial gain is one of the motivators, it is rarely the only value people get from sharing economy. As an example, a social value might be even more important. Sharing things with others pushes a person to connect with others, at least for a little while. One area where these social benefits are clear is pet sharing platforms. Loneliness is a real problem in our society. Many people who could benefit from having a pet are hesitant to get one because they have no help to take care of them. At the same time, there are young people without a job who could use some cash, exercise and the company of animals. Dog walking or pet sitting services combine them all. Additionally, people currently unable to become a pet parent can sign up to take care of other’s pets.
This article originally appeared on the author’s Medium blog.