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12.06.2019 | Original Paper

It’s About Distributing Rather than Sharing: Using Labor Process Theory to Probe the “Sharing” Economy

Zeitschrift:
Journal of Business Ethics
Autoren:
Sunyu Chai, Maureen A. Scully
Wichtige Hinweise

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Abstract

The sharing economy has been examined from many angles, including the engagement of customers, the capabilities of the technological platforms, and the experiences of those who sell products or services. We focus on labor in the sharing economy. Labor has been regarded as one type of asset exchanged in the sharing economy, as part of the customer interface when services are sold, or as a party vulnerable to exploitation. We focus on labor as a position in relationship to owners of capital. While new typologies to characterize the sharing economy are emerging, we argue that a well-established framework that has been applied across historic types of work arrangements can offer a robust analysis of enduring and new labor issues. We draw upon labor process theory (LPT) from early formulations to recent applications to guide an analysis appropriate to the sharing economy. We use both central and less explored concepts from LPT (obscuring and securing surplus value, technology as control, invisibility of owners and managers, and possessive individualism) and use Uber as a case to illustrate application of the framework. By considering labor, capital, and the power dynamics between them, we draw attention to unequal exchange and distributive justice, fundamental for taking a business ethics approach to labor in the sharing economy.

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