Comment 113060

By j.servus (registered) | Posted July 24, 2015 at 13:10:31 in reply to Comment 113025

My impression is the point of "share" in "share economy" is not "shared" as opposed to "bought," or "sharing" as a metaphor for "barter" or "exchange," but rather "shared" as opposed to "owned." The prevailing model in our society in recent decades has been owning your own stuff - your own car/lawnmower/compound mitre saw/whatever. But that turns out not to make sense for many items that are used occasionally but recurrently. So you get a cooperative ownership model, either formal or informal, where the costs of owning and operating are shared in some proportion to use (or means, etc.).

If "sharing" means cooperative ownership-, cost-, and use-sharing, then the bikeshare and carshare cooperatives seem to be institutionalized extensions.

In this sense of "sharing," Uber is not really a "share" model (any more than renting a cottage instead of owning one is). It probably gets associated with "sharing" because it extends the trend away from privately owning and maintaining a vehicle that mostly sits tight, and also because renting, like the kinds of "sharing" I have been describing, is a way of distributing costs in proportion to use (but owning/operating are related to someone's profit motive).

The inconvenience of "sharing" is working around other people's interests in using the common property. But what seems to be really new now is the technology which makes it possible to use something like Uber basically on demand. In that connection, the surge pricing probably makes some sense, since the pricing mechanism functions (in part) to match supply with demand, thus ensuring everyone who wants the convenience of a car and is willing to pay for it, can actually get it.

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