the grateful serfs of the sharing economy

One of the most interesting developments in the so-called sharing economy is the growing tendency for the largest of these companies to try and mobilise their users as lobbying and protest groups at the municipal level

But when Airbnb’s executives look out at the world, they don’t see a fragmented puzzle of local politics and planning codes. They see Moscow, where Russians are renting out rooms on Airbnb as a means of surviving the country’s current recession. They see Havana, where Cubans were listing their homes in droves https://nextcity.org/features/view/cuba-airbnb-houses-for-rent-sharing-economy-havana. They see, as Lehane said to a room full of reporters over breakfast the morning after the election, a global network of guests and hosts that, if politically organized by and in favor of the company, could be enormously powerful.

And so organizing and training them is exactly what Airbnb plans to do, using its victory in San Francisco to unite Airbnb’s most passionate users into a series of clubs in cities around the world. The goal is to have created 100 of them by 2016. When election season rolls around that year, legions of customer advocates will be ready and waiting to come out against any group or individual who doesn’t wholeheartedly embrace Airbnb and what it stands for.

http://www.buzzfeed.com/carolineodonovan/the-road-forward-for-airbnb?utm_term=.bc5407K9g#.cj2mP6j0Q

This would always be sinister in-and-of-itself. But what really worries me is the dependency and/or loyalty of these users and how that may play itself out politically as this trend develops. I just came across this remarkable devotional essay: Why I’m thankful for the sharing economy.

At the end of the day, the sharing economy is the most necessary thing I need to survive. Not a day goes by without my pulling out my phone and tapping a couple apps to make my life in this crazy world a little bit easier

http://vator.tv/news/2015-11-26-why-i-m-thankful-for-the-sharing-economy#rX3SZo23vhE1f04Y.99

How many people experience these companies as something essential for their day-to-day life? This strikes me as a really urgent empirical question, particularly given the aforementioned political questioned posed by the increasingly aggressive lobbying of these companies in municipalities throughout the world.