Platform Cooperatives: The Social and Solidarity Economy and the Future of Work

Abstract - EN

The sharing economy has increasingly infiltrated our lives under the form of mobile platforms like Uber, Airbnb, and eBay. However, the sharing economy has faced various backlashes over the years as its capitalist enterprises prioritize profit-maximizing motives over its own workers, thus neglecting the well-being of workers to the detriment of economic and social equality. In that context, the platform cooperative movement was born with a strong conviction to advocate for the common economic and social concerns of workers. Platform cooperatives offer the same services on technologically equivalent digital platforms compared to their capitalist counterparts, such as ride-sharing, online marketplace, or crowdsourcing, but the engagement of workers in these two business models are vastly different, due to their distinct goals and missions. This paper uses case studies of a capitalist platform (TaskRabbit) and a platform cooperative (Loconomics), both in the crowdsourcing industry, to examine how these models differ in engaging their workers in four different aspects: ownership of the enterprise, involvement in decision-making, profit distribution, and the facilitation of interpersonal relationships. The findings of this paper confirm that the democratic practices of platform cooperatives allow it to better satisfy workers’ needs compared to platform capitalist enterprises.

SDGs in this paper:

08. Decent Work and Economic Growth