The False Promise of the Sharing Economy

Document Type

Book Chapter

Publication Date


Source Publication

D. McKee, F. Makela & T. Scassa, (eds.) Law and the “Sharing Economy”: Regulating Online Market Platforms (Ottawa: University of Ottawa Press 2018)


Sharing economy; Labor; Employment; Regulation


A brief review of historical antecedents and contemporary examples of genuine sharing demonstrates that what we currently call “the sharing economy” is misleadingly named. Its disruptive effects on labour and non-labour markets is reviewed and possible strategies are suggested for resolution of the “classification problem” (are Uber drivers “employees”? is AirBnB accommodation a “hotel”?). Finally, the broader issues of political economy raised by the advent of the sharing economy are canvassed — including whether capitalism can survive the dislocations this new technology-driven, regulation-subverting approach to the provision of goods and services is inflicting on consumers, workers and small enterprises.