Collective Representation on Collaborative Economy Platforms
The promise of collaborative consumption lies in its potential to promote transparent and participatory communal exchange relations as well as increasing the utilization rate of micro-level capital through sharing with those in need of such capital. The potential of collaborative consumption is supported by technological innovation largely based on platforms of exchange and provision, both in grass-roots efforts and in business ventures. Concentrating on the latter, we argue that the success of collaborative economy business platforms coincides with the fluidity between production and consumption. The differentiation between work and consumption is seemingly thinning: consumers offer their input and resources to organizational processes of production, and consumers’ tangible and intangible resources – their possessions and skills – become lucrative and accessible on platforms. Consequently, this challenges traditional definitions, conditions, and sites of work and worker representation, as pinning down what counts as work, and who engages in work becomes increasingly difficult. In this chapter, we address the dearth of research on collective representation in collaborative economy business models. We focus on the ability of collaborative economy platforms to harness working consumers’ resources and willingness to work in settings that they do not primarily consider work. We approach the question: What are the possibilities and forms of collective representation in the collaborative economy ? Using a synthesizing approach, we illustrate the struggle between individual and collective interests in the relational dynamics of the collaborative economy and theorize on the potentiality for any collective representation in this context.
Keywords: collective representation, work, collaborative economy