Explainer: What are Open Co-ops and Platform Co-ops?
In the last few years, you’ve probably seen some articles about the flaws and failures of the what has been called the “sharing economy.” Critics often cite the disingenuous use of the word sharing, and the exclusion of users as potential stakeholders or owners of the intermediary platforms. Much of the public criticism for these and other issues has been aimed at high-profile online platforms, usually Airbnb and Uber, with good reason.
Two cooperative movements are important in this discussion: Platform Cooperativism, and Open Cooperativism. One may be more publicly visible right now, but they have much in common. These movements marry the power of digital networks with the rich history of the cooperative movement. How do these approaches compare? Are they redundant, complementary, mutually exclusive? What exact problems do they solve, and what outcome do they seek? In this article, we explain their origins and characteristics, and see how the actions proposed by these movements can work together, helping us form resilient livelihoods in our networked age.