Precursors to the Sharing Economy: Cooperatives 11
“embrace ownership—and, as they do, they’re changing what owning means
It is “a different ownership model” that similarly drives Scholz’s (2014,
1–6) interest in cooperatives as a fairer, “humane alternative to the free
market model” or “platform capitalism” that “trains people to be followers”
and involves “subcontracting and rental economies with big payouts going
to small groups of people.” Cooperatives, by contrast, “could help weave
some ethical threads into the fabric of 21st century work.” Instead of the
unsustainable practices of “suck[ing] value out of your interactions with
everyday objects, recruiting . informants for surveillance capitalism,”
while “unleashing a colossal union-busting machine” (2–3), Scholz
11) finds in “platform cooperativism” some answers to “the old ­(2016, 
extractive model” in “reinvigorate[d] solidarity, change[d] ownership, and
. . . democratic governance.” Schor (2014) also begins to sketch out how
cooperatives and the solidarity sector more generally might help the sharing
economy avoid co-optation to monopoly interests, increase participation,
and help redistribute wealth through “user-governed or cooperatively
owned” platforms. Embedded in the right “political, regulatory, and social
contexts,” and enjoying “cross-fertilization” with other social movements,
the sharing economy might avoid the commodifying, concentrating, and
corporatizing pressures (Schor 2014, 11–12).
With a special emphasis on the Canadian experience, this chapter builds
on these suggestions, reframing issues while taking back cooperative history
and identity from corporate appropriations and distortions to rekindle coop-
erative memory; reanimate the seven principles; and promote economic, en-
vironmental, and cultural democracy. In the process it unpacks the dominant
fictions of economic modernity that have brought us to the current tipping
point and sacrificed alternative models and principles in the process.
Hidden History/Hidden Curriculum
Crises are the result of powerful discourses, institutions, meaning making,
and material practices—as well as “functional stupidity” (Alvesson and Spicer
2012, 1194), or an unwillingness or incapacity to reflect critically on domi-
nant terms or assumptions—that maintain the status quo and still keep coop-
erative forms of ownership largely invisible in business school curricula and
in mass media (Findlay 2012; Shaw 2012). They are equally invisible in eco-
nomics texts (Kalmi 2007; Quarter et al. 2002) and economics journals in-
vested in “a neo-classical monoculture” (Webster et  al. 2012). For all the
postmodern claims about the end of history and the nation state, and the tri-
umph of the liberal subject (eclectic, consumerist, individualist), big stories
by self-inflating authors continue to favor mainstream interests and reproduce
inequalities, while mediating our understanding of “realities” and our
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