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2017| Digital Labour Markets in the Platform Economy Mapping the Political Challenges of Crowd Work and Gig Work

By: Florian A. Schmidt

The so-called “sharing economy” is gaining momentum. As of 2016, Airbnb is valued at US$25.5 billion, while Uber is valued at US$62.5 billion. The two companies, which are presented as engaged in the “sharing of underutilised assets” – the commercial brokering of accommodation and of transportation, respectively – are now among the most valuable startups on the market.

Their massive accumulation of venture capital is driven by the investors’ hope for new forms of value creation through the “disruption” of existing business models, which are often portrayed as ossified, overregulated and inefficient. In contrast to what the term “sharing economy” suggests, however, the large digital platforms in this area are not based primarily on the sharing of common goods but on the commercial coordination of various services offered by private individuals.

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