The passions and the interests: Unpacking the 'sharing economy'

Since 2014, the phenomenal growth of a few large commercial 'sharing' platforms, the increasing number of economic sectors affected, and the conflicting interests among the stakeholders involved have made the 'sharing economy' a domain of conflictual rhetoric and public controversies, legal disputes, and even violent protests. The various expressions used to refer to 'sharing' platforms, by now appropriated by practitioners and stakeholders, are used in such confused and confusing ways that it is at times difficult to ascertain whether advocates, opponents, regulators, and policy makers are discussing the same phenomenon. This theoretically-inspired and empirically-informed critical essay (i) unpacks the 'sharing economy' rhetoric, (ii) clears the field of semantic and conceptual ambiguity by providing a heuristically-useful and empirically-grounded typology, (iii) maps the controversies against available empirical evidence on the functioning and on the impacts of 'sharing' platforms, (iv) reviews the debate and the literature which focuses on regulatory and policy issues, and (v) discusses all these aspects in terms of their policy implications, and of future European research on this topic.

Codagnone, C., Abadie, F. and Biagi, F. (2016), The passions and the interests: Unpacking the ‘sharing economy’, JRC (Joint Research Centre), Seville, Spain.


  • Research publication
  • EU28
  • Yes
  • no specific sector focus
  • information asymmetry, motivation for platform work, representation, industrial relations, social dialogue
  • English
  • JRC (Joint Research Centre) (Research institute)
  • Qualitative research
  • 2016
  • Open access
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