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The Trap of Success: A Paradox of Scale for Sharing Economy and Degrowth

Andreoni, Valeria (2020) The Trap of Success: A Paradox of Scale for Sharing Economy and Degrowth. Sustainability, 12 (8). ISSN 2071-1050

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Abstract

Over the recent years, the sharing economy has been discussed as a community-based solution for a more sustainable future. Supported by the development of information technologies and defined by a large range of activities based on the access of underutilized resources over ownership, the sharing economy has been framed as a socio-economic model that is able to increase social bonding and collaboration and to reduce the inefficient allocation of resources. Within this framework, the sharing economy seems to align with the ideas of degrowth, broadly defined as a downscaling of production and consumption activities oriented to increase environmental quality and social collaboration. Despite the connections existing between them, no previous studies investigate the two concepts together. By considering the evidence provided by previous literature, this paper maps the links and similarities existing between sharing economy and degrowth and analyzes the discrepancies existing between the promises of the sharing economy and the impacts generated by practices. A paradox of scale, where the sharing activities fail to deliver as a consequence of success is also discussed together with future research directions. This paper contributes to the existing debate around alternative economic models and can support the design of sustainable practices.

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