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

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

Juliet B. Schor. Univ. of California, $24.95 (275p) ISBN 978-0-520-325-050

Boston College sociologist Schor (True Wealth) punctures the hype surrounding the “sharing economy” in this lucid and deeply researched study. Highlighting the elitism of even the most well-intentioned ventures, Schor draws on case studies conducted by a team of graduate students to detail, for instance, how a Brooklyn food swap was “undone by a combination of foodie judgmentalism and overt snobbery.” She reveals that for-profit sharing platforms such as TaskRabbit are dominated by well-educated whites looking to supplement their incomes, while full-time workers face a lack of benefits, poor job security, and unpredictable earning streams. She also accuses Uber and Lyft of worsening traffic conditions and increasing pollution by drawing riders from public transportation, and cites studies that Airbnb has contributed to rising rents. Schor identifies some successes, including the gifting platform Freecycle, which she says offers “an environmentally satisfying and convenient way” of solving the problem of overbuying, and holds out hope that sharing platforms can help to address global warming and income inequality. Schor backs her claims with detailed evidence, and identifies specific, actionable reforms. This incisive account makes a perplexing subject easier to grasp. (Aug.)