The Sharing Economy as a Catalyst for Aboriginal Activism in Australia

Vote Yes 23"Vote Yes 23" by sridgway is licensed under CC BY 2.0.
Vote Yes 23” by sridgway is licensed under CC BY 2.0.


The 21st century has witnessed a paradigm shift in the way society consumes and shares resources, services and expertise. This shift is attributed to the rise of the sharing economy, which upends traditional economic models and paves the way for innovative peer-to-peer exchanges. (John, 2016) At the same time, digital activism has become an important tool to incite social and participate in political change in the digital age. In the Australian context, Aboriginal users are increasingly using digital media as a means of political participation, that is, digital activism. (Dreher et al, 2016) This article argues that the sharing economy provides fertile ground for the development of Aboriginal activism. This claim is based on the following arguments: 1. The democratization of the sharing economy. 2. Sharing community interactive network driven by the sharing economy. 3. Data provided by the sharing economy platform. 4. The global influence and scalability of the sharing economy. By examining the intersection of the sharing economy with Indigenous culture and activism, this article explores how this new economic model has the potential to empower and expand Indigenous activism.

The democratization of the sharing economy

The core argument for the sharing economy as fertile ground for Indigenous activism lies in its potential to democratize traditional economic models that typically involve the production and redistribution of goods and services—a centralized model. In contrast, the sharing economy enables individuals to participate in economic activities outside these traditional structures. In effect, the sharing economy provides marginalized communities, namely indigenous peoples, with the ability to leverage their assets and skills to generate income. This is especially valuable for those who face traditional employment difficulties. (Burtch, G., Carnahan, S., & Greenwood, B. N. 2018) Therefore, anyone with a spare room, car, or skills can become a provider, which levels the playing field, and a classic example is “TaskRabbit” , which matches local freelancers with demand, allowing people to seek help with various piecemeal jobs.

This democratizing potential extends to digital activism. This is consistent with the principles of digital activism: intersectionality theory – people’s identities are made up of multiple faces and they can empathize with one identity (Brown, M., Ray, R., Summers, E., & Fraistat, N . 2017.) And the sharing economy allows people from different backgrounds to mobilize around the same issues. This means that Aboriginal people from different backgrounds will be able to connect through sharing economy platforms, thus promoting the expansion of Aboriginal activism. In one example, activists were able to meet fellow Aboriginal drivers through Uber.

uber” by stockcatalog is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

Community-driven interaction

Another key aspect of the sharing economy’s drive to foster Indigenous digital activism is its emphasis on community-driven interactions. As mentioned above, people from different backgrounds mobilize around the same issues, so participants in the sharing economy often form close-knit online communities in which they share experiences, provide support and promote common values. And these digital communities will become breeding grounds for digital activism, as individuals with shared interests and concerns come together to address social and political issues.

Aboriginal people are mostly marginalized communities (that is, people who lack infrastructure services), and the proliferation of short-term rental platforms such as Airbnb has allowed these marginalized communities and Aboriginal people to unite to organize and monitor the use of shared resources through digital platforms. These residents will create new online groups to share information and resources to expand the size of their Aboriginal communities. These groups may have the same demands based on their identities. The building of Indigenous communities and the mobilizing potential of digital activism thus work in synergy with each other.

On the other hand, the core of the sharing economy embodies the principles of community, cooperation and resource sharing. The cultural values of the Aboriginal community are based on mutual support and sharing of responsibilities. Under the same core concept, the Aboriginal mutual aid culture and sharing economy quickly reached consensus, placing greater emphasis on community public values. And that means Indigenous activists can use the principles of the sharing economy to strengthen their cultural ties, promote self-sufficiency, and challenge economic structures that have historically marginalized them. Yes23 is an indigenous activity born under the core of this joint collaboration. In fact, it is also the use of the sharing economy.

Incredible Journeys: Across Indigenous Australia” by planeta is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.

Data-driven insights

The sharing economy’s data-rich environment also contributes to its role as a catalyst for Indigenous digital activism. Digital platforms in the sharing economy collect vast amounts of data about user behavior, preferences and interactions. Digital activists can use this data to analyze the impact of sharing economy practices on various aspects of society, including communities, the environment, and labor conditions.

Digital activists can use this data to make evidence-based arguments and advocate for policy change more effectively. According to an experiment conducted on Airbnb, guests with distinctly African-American names were 16% less likely to have their rental applications accepted than the same guests with distinctly white names, according to research. (Edelman, Benjamin, Michael Luca, and Dan Svirsky. 2017.) This means that racial discrimination still exists in the sharing economy, which also contributes to the adequacy of policies promoted by indigenous activists.

Global reach and scalability

The global reach and scalability of the sharing economy amplifies the influence of Indigenous people on digital activism on a larger scale. Digital activists can leverage sharing economy platforms to reach audiences around the world and build international alliances. This connection is particularly important for solving the rights and interests of indigenous peoples. Because issues of human rights and racial discrimination exist on a global scale, and when one party takes action, it will cause a chain reaction. A specific example is that after the Black Lives Matter protest march was triggered, the Indigenous Lives Matter event confirmed the existence of this connection. .

Brisbane Anti-Racism Protest – 6 June 2020 – AndrewMercer – DSC05346” by Andrew Mercer ( is licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0.

The sharing economy thus facilitates cross-border collaboration, allowing activists from around the world to exchange ideas and share resources, forming broader alliances and extending the impact of Indigenous activism to a global scale. On the other hand, activism will be able to expand to other countries and enable further exchanges and collaborations.


Although the sharing economy has brought many opportunities to indigenous peoples and even provided the ground for activism, it also has certain limitations.
Digital divide:
As a new economic concept that relies on digital platforms and technologies, the digital divide is an unavoidable problem for the sharing economy. Despite the promise of the sharing economy, some First Nations still struggle with the digital divide—a lack of digital technology and the skills needed to fully participate in the digital realm. One of the simplest issues is limited access, a lack of reliable internet access or affordable devices, which means they may not even have heard of the software, which certainly affects the amount of activism that Aboriginal groups engage in. . Another issue is digital literacy. Individual differences in digital literacy will also lead to indigenous peoples’ difficulty in controlling the sharing economy platform, which means they are unable to establish a sharing economic community, which leads to the inability to form activism.


In summary, by analyzing the democratization of the sharing economy and core theories of Indigenous activism, sharing economy-driven communities and cultures of Indigenous mutual aid, the evidence needed to drive data-driven policy, and its broader global reach and expansion of activism sex. It can be concluded that although a series of issues such as the digital divide will hinder its action, the sharing economy still provides fertile ground for the development of Aboriginal activism in Australia.

As the sharing economy continues to grow, digital platforms, governments and Aboriginal communities must work together to play their part for the benefit of all Australians. And activism’s use of the sharing economy will become a powerful tool for positive change in the country.

Reference List:

John, N. A. (2016). Chapter 4 Sharing Economies.The age of sharing. Polity Press.

Dreher, T., McCallum, K., & Waller, L. (2016). Indigenous voices and mediatized policy making in the digital age. Information, Community & Society, 19(1), 23-29.

Burtch, G., Carnahan, S., & Greenwood, B. N. (2018). Can you gig it? An empirical examination of the gig economy and entrepreneurial activity. Strategic Management Journal.

Brown, M., Ray, R., Summers, E., & Fraistat, N. (2017). # SayHerName: A case study of intersectional social media activism. Ethnic and Racial Studies, 40(11), 1831-1846.

Edelman, Benjamin, Michael Luca, and Dan Svirsky. (2017). “Racial Discrimination in the Sharing Economy: Evidence from a Field Experiment.” American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, 9 (2): 1-22.

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