Organizing the allocation of goods and services along the lines of shareholder corporations and stakeholder organizations has been a trend that has affected people all over the globe (see previous chapter). The new modes of organization now frame and limit the ways in which sharing takes place in very diverse settings, ranging from the situation of indigenous minorities trying to secure a share of the land to that of wage labourers and credit users looking after their families in complex societies. While this process has been intensifying over the last few decades, we have recently also seen the emergence of what is often called “the sharing economy” that supposedly boosts sharing rather than constraining it (see www.thepeoplewhoshare.com).1 Domains of the sharing economy that have been most widely publicized and discussed are mobility (car sharing, urban bikes, carpooling and transport networks such as UBER.com and accommodation platforms such as AIRBnB.com), secondhand and recycled objects (books, jumble, give boxes), leftover food (food sharing schemes like foodsharing.de), and work (co-working spaces, Local Exchange Trading Systems like noppes.nl). In other words, the “sharing economy” is not a marginal phenomenon but it is spreading across domains in various formats. As a form of co-consumption the “sharing economy” has been hailed as an ingenious general remedy to global inequalities and as the way forward for a sustainable use of resources (see Rifkin 2014). At the same time it has also been criticized as an attempt to integrate aspects of personal life into the capitalist economy, for instance when private homes, cars and neighbourhood services become items of commercialized exchange.2 In either case, the new players on the market, the new services and products seem to attract the label “sharing” or feel attracted to it. As innovations they tend to undermine existing ways of transferring goods and services before they become an established part of the commercial market system. In this chapter I look at some of these schemes but I also include a
social innovation, the Basic Income Grant schemes, which are not usually covered under the notion of the sharing economy but which, I will argue, retain many more features of sharing practices.