Precursors to the Sharing
Economy: Cooperatives
Isobel M. Findlay
In the context of ongoing financial, economic, and environmental crises,
many herald the sharing economy or collaborative consumption (Botsman
and Rogers 2010)—distinguished by Belk (2010, 2014) from both gift giving
and market exchanges—as a game changer (Walsh 2011). “Mindful consump-
tion” (Sheth, Sethia, and Srinivas 2011)—distinct from both the constrained
consumption of the underprivileged and the conspicuous consumption of the
privileged—is characterized as a novel, disruptive, and innovative response to
overconsumption of goods and services and underutilization of assets and
resources. It is promoted as empowering people to achieve sustainable fu-
tures, avoid the excesses of ownership that precipitated the crises, and even
promote “the re-emergence of community” (Botsman and Rogers 2010), espe-
cially in the context of changed mind-sets and knowledgeable, responsible
consumption (Albinsson and Perera 2012). Exploring a “plenitude economy,”
Schor (2011) remarks on a “wave of social innovation” associated with such
radical rethinking of economic and social values, part of larger efforts to hu-
manize the economy and enhance well-being (Birchall 2011; Haque 2011;
Loxley 2007; McMurtry 2010; Mook, Quarter, and Ryan 2012; Porter and
Kramer 2011; Restakis 2010; Schor 2010; Schwab 2011).
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