Abstract and Keywords
The “sharing economy” has become highly contentious. This chapter takes a broad view, addressing key issues in ongoing debates: terminology, participation, experiences, regulation, discrimination, and inequality. High cultural capital (HCC) participants, who are the majority, see themselves creating a virtuous moral alternative to the conventional market. However, their activities increasingly take place on large for-profit platforms that are resulting in a series of undesirable outcomes. These include pervasive racial and class discrimination, and the generation of inequality. The two largest platforms (Airbnb and Uber) have had adverse effects on urban housing and transportation, which have been the subject of recent regulatory efforts. Ultimately, the dynamism of the sharing economy, and the lack of fixed institutions, norms, and participants, means consumer researchers should be asking critical questions about the sector, its claims of common good, and its impact on social life.
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