Transition within a transition: how cooperative platforms want to change the sharing economy

Abstract

Scholars have argued that the sharing economy represents a transitional pathway to sustainability. The growth, however, of multi-national giants, such as Airbnb or Uber, has created new environmental, social, and economic problems and led many to question the dominant form of the sharing economy. In this paper, we study a transition within a transition—that is the emergence of a new niche of cooperative platforms within the sharing economy. We examine how promoters and followers of Fairbnb, a nascent cooperative alternative to Airbnb, frame and envision their project and then discuss tensions, debates, and limits around their ideas and business model. We find that their primary motivations are to mitigate the negative effects of mass tourism, to prevent the extraction of wealth from local economies, and to sustain a prosperous social business. Tensions are found around limitations of democratic governance, decentralization, and size of the project.

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Acknowledgements

We acknowledge financial support from the Spanish Ministry of Economy and Business (MINECO), through the “María de Maeztu” program for Units of Excellence (MDM-2015-0552). Foramitti’s research benefited from funding through an ERC Advanced Grant from the European Research Council (ERC) under the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme (Grant agreement \(\hbox {n}^{\circ }\) 741087).

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Correspondence to Joël Foramitti.

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Handled by Osamu Saito, Institute for Global Environmental Strategies, Japan.

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Foramitti, J., Varvarousis, A. & Kallis, G. Transition within a transition: how cooperative platforms want to change the sharing economy. Sustain Sci 15, 1185–1197 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11625-020-00804-y

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Keywords

  • Sharing economy
  • Platform cooperativism
  • Accommodation sharing
  • Airbnb
  • Framing
  • Business model innovation