The role and thinking of sharing economy in social development

Sharing economy and smart consumption concept. by SkyPics Studio is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 4.0 

Definition and Development of Sharing Economy

Sharing economy is a completely different economic system from the traditional business model, which is a new economic model in which individuals or enterprises directly share resources, goods and services with consumers through an online platform(Dwyer & SpringerLink,2019). This concept first originated in the 1970s, but due to the lack of technology and material resources, it was not until 2000 that the concept of sharing economy was realised in consumer products by ZIPCAR, a car-sharing company(Cheng,2016). Now, the market under the operation of the sharing economy model has developed a share of trillions of assets, becoming the most promising economic model of the 21st century, favoured by the capital market and the consumer market.

Epic Economics. (2023). What is the Sharing Economy?. YouTube.

The unique advantages of the sharing economy

Increased Resource Efficiency

Sharing economy model has very significant advantages, this user-consumer or platform-consumer direct docking mode, not only improves the transaction efficiency, reduces unnecessary costs, so that both sides of the interests of the maximum, at the same time, this low-threshold trading market so that a lot of individuals or society’s underutilised assets or idle resources can be accessed and utilised, which largely activates the personal Idle assets have greatly improved the efficiency of resource utilisation(John,2016).

For example, Airbnb, a rental platform, allows users to rent out their idle properties, so that assets that would otherwise be difficult to obtain economic value can once again be utilised, while renters can also enjoy better quality, lower prices and more diversified choices of rental resources. The Uber taxi platform is also based on the logic of sharing personal resources, so that private car users can also drive their own private cars to obtain economic value in their free time, while a large increase in the number of taxis available for service, so that taxi users can also have lower travel costs, less waiting time and more efficient travel efficiency(Felländer & Teigland,2015). Improved resource efficiency for individuals and society leads to improved economic performance, a win-win situation for both supply and demand, which is the fundamental reason why the sharing economy can be sustained and supported by both the supply side and the demand side.

Customer vs. Consumer © 2 by Bharath Sivakumar is licensed under CC BY-NC 4.0 

Access to resources without ownership

The idea of being able to access resources without paying the same price is the kind of consumption that everyone hopes for. This idea may have been unimaginable in the past, but under the model of the sharing economy, such an idea can be realised at a low threshold(Sundararajan,2013), which is also the second unique advantage of the sharing economy.

When consumers need to obtain the appropriate services but do not want to pay the high cost of all, the advantages of the sharing economy is embodied, such as in the sharing of bicycles is based on the needs of such users to create, many people in the underground and bus will appear from the underground station or bus station need a long time to walk to reach the destination of the problem, and the sharing of bicycles was introduced to solve the user travelling on the last mile of transport problems. The purpose of bike sharing is to solve the problem of the last kilometre of transport for users. Users do not need to buy a bike, only need to pay the corresponding costs can use the shared bike ride to the destination, and do not need to spend more effort on the bike care and maintenance issues, only need to get off the car after locking the car can complete the trip, which greatly saves the user’s travel costs, but also improves the travelling efficiency.

Bari Bike Sharing © 2 by VAIMOO is licensed under CC BY-NC 4.0 

Challenges to the development of the sharing economy in society

Unequal economic distribution

Unequal economic distribution is the main issue that leads to the resistance of the sharing economy. Because the resources utilised by the sharing economy are based on the idle assets of the users themselves, but the volume of resources possessed by different users varies greatly, it is easy to create a large gap between the rich and the poor under the sharing economy, leading to the formation of a new situation of inequality. For example, Airbnb users who own multiple properties can obtain a large source of income through it, but renters need to struggle with the rising cost of renting. This asset disparity brings about an unequal distribution of the economy in the sharing economy is the root cause of questions about social equity and wealth concentration.

Income inequality © 2016 by BSI Economy is licensed under CC BY-NC 4.0 

Security Issues

Most of the services provided by the sharing economy model are peer-to-peer, especially in the rental and taxi markets, which raises concerns about security. If the platforms are not able to provide strict and real-time supervision, there are huge security risks for both the users who provide the services and those who enjoy them. Such safety incidents have also occurred frequently in recent years, on 14 June this year, 48-year-old Phoebe D. Copas shot and killed her YouTuber driver in Texas after she wrongly believed that she was being forced by the YouTuber driver to take her to Mexico, which posed a threat to her life(NEWS,2023).

Passenger shot and killed Uber driver she believed was taking her to Mexico, police say

A 2018 study has also shown that the majority of properties rented out on the Airbnb platform have safety risks, including. Including but not limited to lack of first aid equipment, lack of smoke detectors, lack of carbon monoxide detectors, lack of fire extinguishing equipment(TIME,2018).

Renting an Airbnb Could Be Risky For Your Safety, a New Study Finds

These accidents and safety reports show that the sharing economy model requires not only good use of resources but also strict regulation of resources in order to enhance user trust and acceptance.

Labour Rights

The most direct impact of the development of the sharing economy is the original labour groups in the field, the rights and interests of the labour groups will be continuously exploited with the impact of economic shocks, which will lead to the opposition and riots of the labour groups against the sharing economy model, which is not conducive to the development of the sharing economy model. In September 2015, taxi unions across Australia held lengthy protest marches to demand that the government crack down on the Uber-based online taxi platforms, which were seriously affecting their productivity.

Taxi strike: Cabbies across Australia to strike over Uber

Reich,R. (2016). Why the Sharing Economy Is Hurting Workers. YouTube.

Viable solutions

Revenue redistribution mechanism

It is possible to change the income distribution mechanism under the sharing economy to reduce the economic income and avoid the problem of large income disparity and wealth concentration. For example, the Airbnb platform can modify the regulations to limit the number of resources each user can provide, stipulate the maximum monthly income of users, and also need to set a reasonable range of rent prices to ensure that the price fluctuations in the rental market within a reasonable range, to protect the interests of rental users(Wachsmuth & Weisler,2018).

Protection of workers’ rights and interests

It is important to protect the rights and interests of workers, as they are the relative victims of the sharing economy, and platforms should work with local governments to provide more jobs and amenities for workers in accordance with local labour protection laws.

Anner,M. (2021). Defending Workers’ Rights, From Trauma to Empowerment. TEDxPSU.

Rationalise norms and standards for problems with safety, trust and regulation

Safety is always the most important issue, and it is also the most important thing that platforms should pay attention to and ensure. The platform should introduce corresponding means and regulations to ensure that all resources under the platform are in a legal and safe state before providing them as services to users.

For online car rental platforms, the platforms should improve and update the personal information of drivers and users in a timely manner, improve the platform’s automatic emergency alarm mechanism, record real-time car tracks and collect audio recordings when the driver is providing travelling services, and make use of big data and artificial intelligence to detect sensitive words in real time and feed them back to the government’s security department(Posen,2015). And rental platforms should add offline staff to ensure that they can regularly score and standardise inspections of every property offered for rent to ensure that everything is running properly and safely.

Safety at Heart © 2019 by Uber Newsroom is licensed under CC BY-NC 4.0 


The development of the sharing economy is a great change and opportunity for society as well as a great challenge. Although challenges and opportunities go hand in hand, it is hoped that the capital market and government departments can work together to solve these problems and protect the legitimate rights and interests of users, platforms and other relevant stakeholders. Only in this way can the sharing economy receive a warmer welcome and have a broader space for development and a sustainable development process.


Cheng, M. (2016). Sharing economy: A review and agenda for future research. International Journal of Hospitality Management, 57, 60-70.

John, N. A. (2016). The age of sharing. Polity Press.

Felländer, A., Ingram, C., & Teigland, R. (2015). Sharing economy. In Embracing Change with Caution. Näringspolitiskt Forum Rapport (Vol. 11).

Sundararajan, A. (2013). From Zipcar to the sharing economy. Harvard business review1(1), 1-2.

Dwyer, & SpringerLink (Online service) (Eds.). (2019). The Business of News Sharing. In Martin, Sharing News Online Commendary Cultures and Social Media News Ecologies (1st ed. 2019., pp. 91–127). Springer International Publishing.

Wachsmuth, D., & Weisler, A. (2018). Airbnb and the rent gap: Gentrification through the sharing economy. Environment and planning A: economy and space50(6), 1147-1170.

Posen, H. A. (2015). Ridesharing in the sharing economy: Should regulators impose Uber regulations on Uber. Iowa L. Rev.101, 405.

NBC News. (2023, June 24). Passenger shot and killed Uber driver believed was taking him to Mexico, police say. NBC News.

Sachs, A. (2018, April 26). Airbnb has a hidden-camera problem. Here’s how to detect a spycam. Time.

Richard, W. (2015, Sep 10). Taxi strike: Cabbies across Australia to strike over Uber. The Sydney Morning Herald.

Epic Economics. (2023). What is the Sharing Economy?. YouTube.

Reich,R. (2016). Why the Sharing Economy Is Hurting Workers. YouTube.

Anner,M. (2021). Defending Workers’ Rights, From Trauma to Empowerment. TEDxPSU.