Two Models for a Fairer Sharing Economy

Davidson, N. Finck, M. and Infranca, J. (eds) (2018), The Cambridge Handbook of the Law of the Sharing Economy, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, pp. 328-340.

29 Pages Posted: 6 Feb 2019

See all articles by Mark Graham

Mark Graham

University of Oxford - Oxford Internet Institute

Mohammad Amir Anwar

Oxford Internet Institute, University of Oxford; School of Tourism and Hospitality Management

Date Written: January 30, 2018

Abstract

Millions of workers around the world join the so-called “sharing economy” every day to perform a variety of jobs. Most of these jobs are digitally mediated through internet-based platforms which connect buyers and sellers of goods and services. However, recent research has begun to highlight the many risks associated with jobs in the sharing economy (Scholz, 2016; Slee, 2016). Many such jobs are characterised by temporary contracts, long and irregular hours, low income, and are often unregulated. The work is highly commoditised, and a global market for this work means that many workers feel they are replaceable, with little bargaining power (Graham et al., 2017a). Workers are made to compete against each other which drives down wages. Thus, many workers will earn below the national minimum wage of their country of location. Since many of these jobs are small “tasks”, clients may have no formal or legal requirement to provide employment benefits to workers. In other words, many sharing economy work practices carry with them various forms of insecurities, and workers typically have less bargaining power than in standard labour markets. These risks are even more pronounced among workers in low and middle-income countries, where our research is situated.

In this chapter, we discuss ways in which the sharing economy can contribute towards economic development by making its work practices fairer not just for workers in low and middle-income countries contexts, but also for those in other parts of the world. We first argue that there is a need to reframe work practices in the sharing economy. In some cases, this will mean ensuring that platforms are seen as employers (and workers are seen as employees rather than being seen as being self-employed) in cases where they exert a large amount of control over working lives. Secondly, a better understanding of the important nodes in sharing economy value chains (that is, points of influence and control) can help formulate strategies involving disruption and intervention by labour so that more value is captured for and by workers. This chapter introduces and reviews two models of cooperative working that could work in conjunction with each other to make the sharing economy fairer for workers around the world.

Keywords: sharing economy, platforms, fairwork, platform cooperatives

Suggested Citation

Graham, Mark and Anwar, Mohammad Amir, Two Models for a Fairer Sharing Economy (January 30, 2018). Davidson, N. Finck, M. and Infranca, J. (eds) (2018), The Cambridge Handbook of the Law of the Sharing Economy, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, pp. 328-340.. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3325820 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3325820

Mark Graham

University of Oxford - Oxford Internet Institute ( email )

1 St. Giles
University of Oxford
Oxford, Oxfordshire OX1 3JS
United Kingdom

HOME PAGE: http://www.geospace.co.uk

Mohammad Amir Anwar (Contact Author)

Oxford Internet Institute, University of Oxford ( email )

1 St. Giles
University of Oxford
Oxford, Oxfordshire OX1 3JS
United Kingdom

School of Tourism and Hospitality Management

PO Box 524
Auckland Park
Johannesburg, Gauteng 2006
South Africa

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