After the Gig: How the Sharing Economy Got Hijacked and How to Win It Back

Future Tense
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Automatic TRANSCRIPT

Juliet shore has been researching. Why the sharing ideal ended up as a form of anti regulation capitalism. Her new book is called after the gig. How the sharing economy got hijacked and how to win it back. So the sharing economy launched in the midst of the so-called great recession of two thousand eight nine and it emerged with a series of could've wonderful promises about all the good things it was going to bring an call that the idealist discourse so it promised it was going to give people a whole new way to work without a boss if people independence and flexibility autonomy that it was going to provide income for struggling middle class people and that it was inclusive because it was so easy to join these platforms and it would reduce discrimination and help low income people. It also promised that it was going to create social ties connections. These were what we call appeared appear person to person exchanges. Somebody in their car. Someone who needs a ride someone with a room. Someone who needs a place to stay and that those exchanges would yield truly personal intimate relationships and then finally it claimed that it was going to reduce carbon footprints. Because airbnb would make it. So we didn't have to build hotels and ridesharing would make it so people didn't have to own their own cars anymore so it was a pretty hefty set of claims and sort of idealistic hopes which we heard from ordinary users. And of course from the platforms themselves as well as the many consultants who were touting the benefits of this new way to run an economy. What does it suggest that flexibility is really the only regional virtue of the sharing economy that still touted by the big gig companies today when whenever they come under attack for their methods and actions. Well flexibility is still at least in principle a key part of gig work in the sense that people can choose to go on the app and go off at any time. They can work as many as few hours as they want in practice. What we do find though. Is that for people who are trying to make a full time. Living on these apps they lose almost all the flexibility they lose a great deal of it. Because there's not enough work too many people chasing too little work so they have to pretty much stay on the apps. Whenever there's any work to be had we know that very quickly. The sharing economy co opted by silicon valley venture capitalists. But we're those original ideals. Plausible could have worked. I think some of them weren't some of them weren't so the environmental idea really warrant for much of the sharing economy. That's because the two biggest sectors which are lodging and transportation are both really carbon intensive activities travel and you know both long distance travel and local travel and these sharing platforms made these services available much more cheaply which meant that more people were gonna use them. So more people getting into private cars as a result of ride hailing because there was so much less costly than taxis. Many more people travelling as a result of the fact that airbnb offered cheaper accommodation so environmental claims weren't laws above the social. Claims are a little bit more mixed. We do find people on airbnb if they're staying with someone who's present in the home rather than renting out a whole place. They are making social ties there. Few sharing platforms like blah blah car in europe which is long distance ridesharing where connecting with someone is really relevant but as far as the claims for the labor side of things economic claims. I think they were feasible. Wall if you had a decent business model and you didn't let too many people on the platform but second the companies started out with pretty decent compensation for the workers in the early days people were pretty happy with many of these platforms but over time because the companies weren't making money kept cutting what they were giving to the workers and this was most prevalent in ride help and the bakeries and they weren't making money was they priced the service too low so uber and lift subsidizing the rise by about forty percent. It's the only way they could get such a big market so if they were less greedy. I think the answer to your question is yes. There is a way to do this. That actually takes advantage of the technology is still a reasonable deal for consumers. But isn't you know giving them crazy. Low prices and also is sort of feasible from platform point of view. Your book is called after the gig and the subtitle is how the sharing economy got hijacked. Which is what we've been talking about and how to win it back looking at the how to win it back do see the. The basic model appears structure augmented by digital technology. Do you see that as having potential to expand or to create genuine sharing economy models. I do think that there's tremendous potential here. So there other more out of the box kind of innovative ways that we can think about using this technology and changing the social relations of production basically in ways that would really benefit users and workers in particular so i studied what are called platform cooperatives and these are platforms. They use many of the same technology so they use the matching algorithms. They use the ratings and reputational data. They use the payment systems but instead of being owned by wealthy investors owned by the people who are actually doing the work so i studied an artist's platform of photographers platform that sell stock photography over the web and there are about a thousand artists who are members of this cooperative. They're much much happier when they they used to work for that quote unquote of stock photography. Which is a company named getty images and two longtime industry insiders started. This new company called stocks a united and photographers flocked to it. They're much much happier. They get a much bigger fraction of the sales and they can govern themselves so they have control over what the company does so. I think it's a fantastic model. The reason i have a lot of optimism for it is that the technology obviates a lot of what management does it takes care of the quality control. It does the matching. it does the finance. You know you really don't need much management and you can see that by the fact that many of these companies have very few employees and that means that it's just that much easier for workers actually to own those companies because there's really not so much that management is providing.

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