SHARING, COLLABORATING AND THE COMMODIFICATION OF EVERYTHING
The labels “Sharing Economy” and “Collaborative Economy” have been widely used in recent years to refer to a variety of initiatives, business models, and forms of work, from commercial platforms to makerspaces and urban gardens. Botsman , one of the first researchers to address this phenomenon, described the “sharing economy” as an “economic model based on sharing, swapping, trading, or renting products and services, enabling access over ownership”.
Two different narratives on the collaborative economy tend to dominate the current discourse. One group of narratives focuses on social innovation, creating more sustainable economic and environmental models in which sharing access to goods and services allows for a more efficient and sustainable utilisation of resources. “Early proponents of the collaborative economy maintained that peer-to-peer exchange has the capacity to fundamentally change the way people relate to one another and the environment” . The second group centres on the idea of market-focused digital innovation able to disrupt existing business models and generate economic activity. Social and environmental benefits are presented as the main incentive.
The stark contrast between the rhetoric of socially-driven initiatives and the business exploitation of digital networks is captured in Troncoso’s  term sharewashing, which highlights examples of renting, work, and surveillance rebranded as ‘sharing’. Many sharing economy enterprises have been widely criticised for exploiting legislation loopholes and undermining labour rights . Light  comments that “despite enthusiasm for the idea of efficient resource use, many people remain unhappy that digital services from the free Couchsurfing to the paid-for AirBnB; from online investing platforms to help for refugees are being lumped together”. Indeed, critical observers of contemporary platform capitalism (e.g.) and activists in the field of platform cooperativism (e.g. ), have clarified how many of the contemporary digital platforms operate extracting wealth from social collaboration . As with much social media, users’ activity through a digital platform creates wealth for a small minority.
This workshop acknowledges such controversy and recognizes that many digital platforms, in their current form, are part of the neoliberal processes shaping our societies . Interested in the relationship between communities and technologies, we ask the following fundamental questions in order to go beyond neoliberal understanding of digital platforms:
What are the opportunities in collaborative economy practices to leverage new digital platforms and emerging networks? How might these lead to new social imaginaries and economic endeavours that co-create more just and livable futures?
We are convinced that one way to answer this question is to think beyond the current dominant narratives of sharing and move towards “care” as a notion and a social practice.
THE ETHICS AND LOGIC OF CARE
Care is understood in contrasting and complementary ways. Care can be the product of an intervention, but can be interwoven into the sharing itself as a means of dialogic interaction and tinkering . We see care as fundamental to co-existence. Drawing on Puig de la Bellacasa’s insight that ‘interdependency is not a contract but a condition; even a precondition’ [10 p.198] of life, we note that. ‘[T]o care about something, or for somebody, is inevitably to create relation’ (ibid). Care is ‘not something forced upon living beings by a moral order; yet it obliges in that for life to be liveable it needs being fostered. This means that care is somehow unavoidable’ (ibid). This relationship can be called the ‘care ethic,’ and one aspect of the workshop will be to better understand how such a perspective can shed light on structuring future social relations . We explore the ‘logic of care’ as embodied in a ‘mode, a style, a way of working’  to interrogate possibilities of new values, practices, and processes across how we might work, play, and live.
Doing so, we refocus the understanding of collaborative economies. The relationship between care and the current digital economy is checkered at best. By connecting the concept of caring to all aspects of platform capitalism, we move closer to Light and Miskelly’s definition of a “sharing culture”  and the “thick networks”  of local communities putting collaboration at the core. These are “projects that proliferate, spawning further ventures and ideas that weren’t envisaged when they started. They then begin to develop a dense, participatory culture that becomes attractive and relevant to everyone rather than mostly to socially active people with time on their hands” .
For example, in the research context, approaches that serve to re-imagine and introduce caring in the context of collaborative economies include the EU-funded CAPS (Collective Awareness Platforms), such as the PIE News project. The PIE News project seeks to introduce the Commonfare.net platform at the end of Q1 2017 to increase awareness and provide support for the “25% and rising of the European population … including precarious workers, the working poor, people unprotected by safety nets, and young people who are no longer in the education system and experience difficulties in finding a job” (pieproject.eu/). Additional research and development could be designed, in parallel, to support other crucial facets such as well-being and education of these young people, applying design as an emancipatory force, building on Ehn’s  early thoughts. Such research will not act in a vacuum: there are diverse existing and nascent examples of activism, research, and design that reflect a general logic of care.
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