On 28-29 June, 2019, I attended the 6th International Workshop on the Sharing Economy (IWSE) in Utrecht, Netherlands. The workshop was organized by the University of Utrecht. A range of research topics related to the sharing economy were presented at the workshop. One of the main topics included the social aspects of sharing economy. 

I presented my ongoing research on developing indicators for evaluating the social impacts of the sharing economy at the Urban Sharing Research group at the International Institute for Industrial Environmental Economics (IIIEE) at Lund University. The title of my presentation was “Evaluating the Social Impact of the Sharing Economy - A Framework”. 

Literature on sharing economy has identified a range of social impacts of the sharing economy. There are claims about both the positive and negative impacts of the sharing economy for different stakeholders. A systematic evaluation of these impacts is, therefore, needed to inform the sharing platforms or local authorities about the social impacts of sharing in order to devise various mechanisms to eliminate the negative social impacts and enhance the positive social impacts. However, there is still a lack of understanding of the stakeholders’ views of these aspects and a coherent set of indicators to measure these aspects do not yet exist.

 Our research addresses this gap by proposing a framework to evaluate the social impacts of the sharing economy. In this research, we conceptualize the sharing economy as a practice between the resource owners and the resource users facilitated by a sharing platform. In this practice, various impacts (both the positive and negative social, economic and environmental values) are shared not only between these actors, but also by the society which is not directly a part of this practice. 

We have identified four key aspects of social sustainability to be evaluated in this practice – empowerment, trust, inclusivity and social justice. Within these four social aspects, 14 sub-indicators are identified (Figure 1). 

 
Figure 1. Social aspects and indicators for social sustainability in the sharing economy. © Dr. Jagdeep Singh

Figure 1. Social aspects and indicators for social sustainability in the sharing economy. © Dr. Jagdeep Singh

 

In order to measure these indicators, two separate tools are developed for collecting specific information on the social impacts of sharing economy practice. An interview guide is developed for the semi-structured interviews with the platform representatives to understand the existing features of the platform to manage the social impacts. Further, a survey is designed to collect information on the social impacts occurring during the sharing interactions among the peers. 

We will test these tools with a sharing platform in the coming weeks, so stay tuned for more updates!