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The sharing economy vs. the dominant model

The sharing economy VS. the dominant model. By William van den Broek

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In the dominant economic system, exchanges are characterized by a permanent need for equivalence. For each manufactured product, and each service, an equivalent counterparty is expected. In order to reach this equality and facilitate the assessment of the counterparty, we use money as an intermediate. The classic economy has allowed exchanges between individuals, who do not necessarily trust each other, to multiply, since the compensation perceived was considered as reliable and safe. This economy model has offered an international framework for trade, supported by currencies (solid and stable) and by contractual laws (fixing faults).

In the sharing economy, the instance of equality is not always the goal. In many aspects, some behaviors of exchange, which could be also be found in the sharing economy, seem like the gift /counter-gift logic. Far from being an idealist system, this transaction method has received increasing attention thanks to new technologies. 

The internet can show us all the benefits of this gift /counter-gift approach in real time, and tt also gives a lot of visibility to people who adopt this behavior. On Couchsurfing, I can gather positive recommendations from people I hosted and be considered as trustworthy member, which will significantly help me if I want to be hosted in the future. The internet is composed of millions of these types of communites, which are based on collaborative principles.

However, when communities appear, compiled of members that can trust one another, the role of money and laws starts to fade. It is a phenomenon we can expect in the coming years, as the confidence found in the monetary system becomes undermined.


In the dominant economic system, created in a time of scarce resources and limited communication means, the concept of ownership and consumption cofounded themselves. Before consuming we needed ownership, and it was  difficult at the time to fulfill needs with limited resources, and to do so in a punctual manner.

In the sharing economy, the age of access announced some years ago by Jeremie Rifkin, will be soon a tangible reality. According to Rifkin, in 25 years the simple idea of ownership will be seen as limited or totally old-fashioned. Having access, rather than ownership, will be what determines our social status. The development of shared mobility is a demonstration of this phenomenon. This is probably the key concept on which the idea of collaborative consumption is based. Thus, since a car is not used 10 hours a day, would it not be more efficient and costly to distribute its use among those needing a car at different at times periods?  

The significant development within means of communication, allowing individuals to interact with each other at anytime and anywhere, has facilitated a better allocation of resources. It is probably here that we will find the real potential for progress in our economies.

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