4 The Rise of the Sharing Economy
sharing” (Nielsen 2014). Based on its increasing popularity, Pricewater-
houseCoopers, the multinational professional services firm, estimates that the
travel, car-sharing, finance, staffing, and music and video streaming sectors of
the sharing economy, currently valued at $15 billion, will be worth $335 bil-
lion by 2025 (PwC 2015). Thus, gaining a better understanding of what the
sharing economy entails would be of use in capitalizing on its potential and in
engaging in meaningful research.
From a broad perspective, the sharing economy includes traditional gov-
ernment-to-peer (G2P) (e.g., public libraries, transportation, parks, and land)
and business-to-peer (B2P) initiatives; however, much of the attention has
focused on peer-to-peer (P2P) or collaborative consumption-based initiatives.
“Collaborative consumption” is defined as “the set of resource circulation sys-
tems which enable consumers to both obtain and provide, temporarily or
permanently, valuable resources or services through direct interaction with
other consumers or through the mediation of a third-party” (Ertz, Durif, and
Arcand 2016, 15). Producers and users engaging in collaborative consump-
tion efforts interact directly in order to share, swap, trade, or rent (Botsman
2011) as well as barter, lend, and gift (Botsman and Rogers 2010). While shar-
ing has been commonplace across cultures for millennia, in the modern mar-
ketplace and the sharing economy, technology is a critical component that
facilitates sharing (Belk 2014; Chapter 5, Harvey, Smith and Golightly; Chap-
ter 6, Kamilaris and Prenafeta-Boldú, this volume). Thus, current definitions
of the sharing economy reference online activity. For example, Hamari,
Sjöklint, and Ukkonen (2015, 1) define it as “the peer-to-peer-based activity
of obtaining, giving, or sharing the access to goods and services, coordinated
through community-based online services.” Schor (2015) speaks of “econom-
ic activity that is Peer-to-Peer, or person-to-person, facilitated by digital plat-
forms,” and the Oxford Dictionary explains it as “an economic system in which
assets or services are shared between private individuals, either free or for a
fee, typically by means of the Internet.” With technology as a facilitator, shar-
ing opportunities can be scaled. As a result, “this type of ‘stranger sharing’ is
new” (Schor 2015).
A wide range of collaborative consumption-based businesses or “plat-
forms,” enabled by technology, exist in the marketplace, and their offerings
affect the lives of millions of individuals who choose to engage with them. In
terms of categorization, they (1) recirculate existing goods (e.g., eBay), (2)
increase the use of underutilized durable assets (e.g., Lyft, Uber, and Airbnb),
(3) facilitate service exchanges (e.g., TaskRabbit or Kutoto), and (4) encourage
the sharing of productive assets (e.g., co-working spaces or educational plat-
forms) (Schor 2014). These entities may be further differentiated based on
whether they are nonprofit or for-profit oriented and whether they are P2P or
B2P providers (Schor 2014). But, on a practical level, what does it mean for
individuals to consume in the sharing economy? For a start, those who do not
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