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The digital sharing economy: A confluence of technical and social sharing

Reference Type: 

Journal Article

Pouri, Maria J., and Lorenz M. Hilty. 2021. “The Digital Sharing Economy: A Confluence of Technical and Social Sharing.” Environmental Innovation and Societal Transitions 38: 127–39.

With the diffusion of digital technologies, new forms of sharing have emerged called ‘the sharing economy’. Digitalization has been the enabler for covering a broad range of sharable resources (technical aspect of sharing) and for operating beyond the limits of small groups and personal relationships (social aspect of sharing). This two-fold digital transition of sharing has enabled unprecedented efficiency in coordinating access to resources. It created new patterns and practices of sharing in the space between traditional sharing on one side and the formal market economy on the other side; leading to the emergence of a new class of resource allocation systems which we call ‘the digital sharing economy (DSE)’. We analyse the DSE as a socio-economic phenomenon without referring to normative presuppositions, such as the presence of pro-social motivations for sharing. Building on a comprehensive definition of the DSE, we propose a theoretical framework for the DSE that embraces and structures the broad variety of sharing platforms and the practices promoted by them. By separating our analysis from normative pre-mises about sharing, we hope to contribute to an unbiased discussion of the sharing economy phenomenon and to lay the ground for differentiated assessments which refer to explicit normative frameworks such as sustainable development.

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