In Regulating Sharing:  The Sharing Economy as an Alternative Capitalist System, Professor Rashmi Dyal-Chand challenges the assumption–implicit in the fast-growing legal literature on the “sharing economy”–that companies in this sector operate in the manner of traditional firms.  Framing the sharing economy as a “nascent form of a coordinated market economy,” Dyal-Chand calls for regulation rooted in a deeper understanding of the institutions–both the technological platforms most commonly associated with the sharing economy (Uber, Airbnb, TaskRabbit, and their ilk) and a burgeoning collection of more organic and democratic organizations—that shape this economy.

This short Response focuses on the potential of this second category of institutions to achieve a more equitable distribution of the economic benefits of the sharing economy.  While I agree that much can be gained from a more critical reflection on the nature of the institutions that shape the sharing economy, I harbor skepticism regarding the current vitality and future potential of these alternative institutions.  I first explore how intermediary institutions might strengthen the position of workers in the sharing economy.  I then express a few hesitations regarding the prospects of intermediary institutions to adequately counterbalance the technological platforms that dominate the sharing economy.  Finally, I offer suggestions for how, by drawing on discussions of the role of institutions in other areas of legal doctrine; an “institutional turn” in thinking about the sharing economy might inform both legal scholarship and regulation.

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