Essay Response by John Infranca
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.
About the Author
Assistant Professor of Law, Suffolk University Law School.
90 Tul. L. Rev. Online 29 (2016)