What is explicitly not shared by any of the poster children of the “sharing economy” is responsibility. When something goes horribly wrong with an Airbnb or Uber transaction, the companies just say: “It wasn’t me.” (The mega-corporation is purportedly neither buyer nor seller but innocent middleman.) Slee has a brilliant chapter on how star-rating “reputation systems” between users simply don’t work, because people feel bad about giving low ratings even when they are amply deserved, so they all cluster between four and five. Instead, trust has to be enforced by authoritarian surveillance and discipline imposed by the company itself. Even so, the companies insist that they are not even providing a service; the websites and apps are just a “communications platform” to link buyers and sellers. (Even as they price-gouge the sellers, with Uber taking increasingly large cuts of up to 30% of a fare.) Nor, notoriously, does Uber consider its drivers to be employees to whom they would owe responsibilities: they are instead “independent contractors”.

posted by user-inactivated: 1019 days ago