The emergence of peer production: challenges and opportunities for labour and unions

Authors: Michel Bauwens and Vasilis Niaros
P2P Foundation
Published on: March 2017 in ETUI Policy Brief

Why did we select this policy brief?

This policy brief addresses the challenges and opportunities caused by the emergence of peer production (including commons-based peer production as well as platforms such as Uber or AirBnB) for the labour movement and workers in this evolving econom. This is a vital subject for policy makers as this emergence is accompanied by many negative social and environmental externalities and important potential advantages, such as a greater opportunity to choose meaningful and autonomous work, as well as other ecological benefits.

Key insights

  • It is vital that the labour movement and trade unions demand strong regulatory safeguards. 
  • Positive responses that have been emerging include the creation of generative entrepreneurial coalitions, platform cooperatives and labour mutuals. 
  • This policy brief recommends approaches that support a new cohort of autonomous workers and consider them as an integral part of the existing labour and union movements. 
  • A productive model that combines global open design communities with distributed manufacturing should be explored as a potential framework for local re-industrialisation and the creation of a substantial amount of blue-collar jobs.


Bauwens, M., & Niaros, V. (2017). The Emergence of Peer Production: Challenges and Opportunities for Labour and Unions. Retrieved from: