Political Economies and Environmental Futures for the Sharing Economy

Authors: Koen Frenken
Date published: May 2017

Why did we select this research?

In this article, Keon Frenken articulates alternative governance regimes of the sharing economy, and the kinds of environmental and social effects that can be expected under each.

Key findings

Following a brief overview of key economic trends and current evidence on the environmental impacts of online sharing platforms, Frenken suggest three possible futures for the sharing economy: 

  1. a capitalist future culminating in monopolistic super-platforms allowing for seamless services; 
  2. a state-led future that shifts taxation from labour to capital and redistributes the gains of sharing from winners to losers, and; 
  3. a citizen-led future based on cooperatively owned platforms under democratic control. 

The three scenarios are compared based on the nature and size of expected social and environmental impacts, as well as the distribution of economic gains and political power.


Frenken, K. (2017). Political economies and environmental futures for the sharing economy. Phil. Trans. R. Soc. A, 375(2095), 20160367. Retrieved from: http://rsta.royalsocietypublishing.org/content/375/2095/20160367