Selected Resources for Sustainable Consumption and Social Equity

Juliet Schor’s Essay "Debating the Sharing Economy"

The “sharing economy” has attracted a great deal of attention. Platforms such as Airbnb and Uber are experiencing explosive growth, which, in turn, has led to regulatory and political battles. Advocates claim the new technologies and sharing initiatives yield utopian outcomes—empowerment of ordinary people, greater social connectivity, efficiency, and even lower carbon footprints. Critics denounce sharing initiatives for being about economic self-interest rather than sharing, and for being predatory and exploitative. Not surprisingly, the reality is more complex. This essay, based on more than three years of study of both non-profit and for-profit initiatives in the “sharing economy,” discusses what’s new and not so new about the sector and how the claims of proponents and critics stack up. While the for-profit companies may be “acting badly,” these new technologies of peer-to-peer economic activity are potentially powerful tools for building a social movement centered on genuine practices of sharing and cooperation in the production and consumption of goods and services. But achieving that potential will require democratizing the ownership and governance of the platforms.

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Citation:"Debating the Sharing Economy." Great Transition Initiative. Accessed August 6, 2015.

Juliet Schor’s SCORAI Colloquium Presentation, November 2014

Juliet Schor, discusses her research into what has become known as the sharing economy. In her presentation, The Sharing Economy:Paradoxes of openness and distinction, Professor Schor addresses some of the claims that have been made about the sharing economy, such as: enhancing economic opportunities, spreading wealth, introducing a fundamentally different type of economic relations, the nature of self-employment, and other related issues.

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Citation: "Juliet Schor: SCORAI Colloquium on Consumption and Social Change – SCORAI." SCORAI. Accessed April 12, 2016.

Growing Apart: A Political History of American Inequality

Using compelling narrative and graphics, this essay unequivocally shows that economic disparity "is greater now than it has been at any time in the last century, and the gaps in wages, income, and wealth are wider here than they are in any other democratic and developed economy."

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Citation: Growing Apart: A Political History of American Inequality. Accessed May 10, 2016.

Understanding Sustainable Consumption: Approaches to measuring social, economic, and environmental impacts in cities, Chapter 4

A project to define sustainable consumption, develop metrics, and assess the degree to which sustainable consumption activities contribute to goals of economic prosperity, social equity and environmental health. This report summarizes literature and presents approaches for understanding and quantifying the scope and impact of sustainable consumption activites with a  focus on repair, reuse and rental of household goods and clothing; tool-lending libraries; and transportation ride-sharing. Chapter 4 discusses triple bottom line impacts of sustainable consumption.

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Citation: Cascadia Consulting Group. Understanding Sustainable Consumption: Approaches to measuring social, economic, and environmental impacts in cities. Urban Sustainability Directors Network, 2015.

Tim Jackson’s Prosperity Without Growth

Is more economic growth the solution? Will it deliver prosperity and well-being for a global population projected to reach nine billion? In this explosive book, Tim Jackson - a top sustainability adviser to the UK government - makes a compelling case against continued economic growth in developed nations.This book is a substantially revised and updated version of Jackson's controversial study for the Sustainable Development Commission, an advisory body to the UK Government.

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Citation: Jackson, Tim. Prosperity Without Growth: Economics for a Finite Planet. London: Earthscan, 2009.

Tim Jackson’s TED Talk: An Economic Reality Check, July 2010

Overview/Abstract: As the world faces recession, climate change, inequity and more, Tim Jackson delivers a piercing challenge to established economic principles, explaining how we might stop feeding the crises and start investing in our future.

Citation: "Tim Jackson: An Economic Reality Check | TED Talk |" TED: Ideas Worth Spreading. n.d.