We are living in an increasingly urbanising society. As of 2014, 54% of the world's population were living in urban areas; the global population living in cities is expected to increase to 66% by 2050 [1]. Beyond this, an additional 2.5 billion people will be added to the current population, with 90% of the growth expected in Asia and Africa and, many of whom, will live in the world's largest mega-cities [1]. These realities present real challenges, and opportunities, for future urban spaces to meet the needs of their people. 

This context set the discussions in motion during "The Urban Planet", hosted by the International Institute of Industrial Environmental Economics (IIIEE) as a part of Lund University's Sustainability Week and in conjunction with the biannual alumni event at the IIIEE. The event took place on May 18, 2017 and sought to elevate a discussion around Smart Cities, Urban Living Labs (and more broadly, collaboration in cities for sustainability), and new ways of organising urban systems. 


Team members Yuliya Voytenko Palgan and Steven Curtis were on hand to present their research. Yuliya presented her past research on Urban Living Labs, while Steven motivated an emerging definition for the sharing economy. Drawing on existing literature, including The Social Logics of Sharing by Nicholas John, Steven conceptualised sharing as an act of division into equal parts; as an act of distribution; as an act of communication; as a form of common ownership; or as a form of individual expression online [2]. 

Finally, Steven presented a preliminary definition to describe those organisations that make up the sharing economy:

  • Physical Goods
  • Rivalrous
  • No Transfer of Ownership (Access)
  • Peer-to-Peer
  • ICT-Enabled

This preliminary definition will be built upon in the coming weeks and months. Team members Steven and Matthias are conducting a systematic literature review, employing bibliometric analysis and qualitative content analysis, to conceptualise the dimensions of the sharing economy. They will present their upcoming work at the 4th International Workshop on the Sharing Economy taking place June 15-16, 2017 in Lund, Sweden. 

[1] https://esa.un.org/unpd/wup/Publications/Files/WUP2014-Highlights.pdf
[2] John, Nicholas A. “The Social Logics of Sharing.” The Communication Review 16, no. 3 (July 1, 2013): 113–131. doi:10.1080/10714421.2013.807119.