Digital Democracy? Options for the International Cooperative Alliance to Advance Platform Co-Ops
*Also available in French and Spanish*
How can the International Co-operative Alliance (ICA) support the development of platform co-ops? This paper, written by Co-operatives UK Secretary General Ed Mayo, aims to locate platform coops – or co-operative platforms – within the co-operative sector and the wider digital economy, and explore how the ICA can define and support the development of the model. We encourage UK-wide feedback on this paper, which Co-operatives UK will collate and deliver back to the ICA.
As technology shapes and reshapes how people interact, it shapes and reshapes economic activity, including how people work and trade. In line with this, there is a growing trend of work that is funnelled through digital platforms owned by just a few large corporations. These platforms offer flexibility and independence, but they can also be viewed as exploitative – extracting the value of the connections made by the 99% for the 1% of outside investors. The network effects of scale in a digital economy has led to the dominance of these Big Tech companies, which in turn has made it harder for people to envisage an alternative future to the current model. However, alternative futures do exist and for now, it is the cooperative alternative in the form of platform coops in particular that is attracting interest