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Log In Register for Online Access. And, because people often have a personal interaction with the owner of assets in the Sharing Economy, they tend to be more considerate when using those assets.
However, we are only seeing part of the story because many of the environmental benefits of the Sharing Economy have yet to fully materialize. While the benefits of the Sharing Economy were and are many, the honeymoon phase of the Sharing Economy revolution is certainly over.
ACM, Nov. Gillian B. Competition L. While these kinds of market failures are not uncommon among burgeoning industries, what is troubling is the role rhetoric has played in convincing people that the Sharing Economy need not be regulated.
For a full discussion of this definition, see Anthony T. Kronman, Rhetoric , 67 U. This Article employs a similarly expansive definition of rhetoric and includes all speech used with the intent to persuade. This broad definition is necessary because rhetoric, as applied to public opinion formation, is a topic of study for a variety of disciplines political science, psychology, communication, sociology, economics, etc.
This Article draws upon several of these disciplines, but most heavily relies on contributions from the field of political science.
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See James N. The use of rhetoric in the sphere of public discourse to influence public policy runs parallel to the birth of public policy itself. As historian James Burns explains, the more democratic societies become, the more important rhetoric is to convince individuals of what they should believe and whom they should follow.
Effective rhetoricians convince their audiences by using particular terms that cause visceral reactions in listeners and by framing arguments in precise ways. If we look backward in time although we need not go too far , we can see how disruptive and ambitious Platforms grew using the most positive and inspiring characteristics of the Sharing Economy to distort perceptions and avoid regulation.
As demonstrated in the subsections below, framing and precise wording confused and overemphasized the positive aspects of the Sharing Economy and compelled the public and lawmakers to support this nascent and fast-moving industry. These two elements of rhetoric, frames and word choice, make up the Myth of the Sharing Economy.
See, e. Druckman, Framing Theory , 10 Ann. Word choice influences how people perceive issues and in turn how they feel about those issues. This is why policymakers carefully leverage the power of words, and politicians often conduct research studies to determine the precise language capable of creating a wanted public reaction and often conduct research studies to determine the precise language capable of creating a wanted public reaction.
For example, in , pollster Frank Luntz advised the Republican Party:. Invoking rhetorical tropes makes arguments accessible and colors them with shades of morality. Indeed, many of these participants thought of sharing literally, with individuals sharing resources in a charitable manner. When euphemistically associated with such positive and altruistic images, it is no wonder that Platforms can mobilize their millions of users to advocate on their behalf, and politicians become hesitant to appear hostile to the sacrosanct concept of sharing.
Sundararajan , supra note 3, at See also infra Part III.
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As described in further detail below, dominant companies within the Sharing Economy Uber, Lyft, Airbnb, etc. Instead, cash, as opposed to altruism, motivates supply-side user behavior. Sharing Economy firms carefully select other terms to elicit specific responses. Insider Sept. City bureaucrats want to make it harder for regular San Franciscans to share their homes while contributing to the community.
Uber is also careful with its word choice. This strategic parsing of words ensures that drivers are viewed as independent contractors and not employees. Platforms are skilled at using words that help them obfuscate their true characteristics and present them in a favorable light. Foreign Policy 5 emphasis omitted. Speakers who succeed in defining the boundaries of an issue can shape public opinion and ultimately influence policy decisions.
Nelson et al. Examples of how advocates and policymakers use framing are plentiful. Frames are especially powerful in emerging technology situations because there is ambiguity about the right course of action and people often are looking for ways to easily understand the situation and form opinions. Framing issues is a common, useful, and effective rhetorical tool. However, policymakers and constituents should question frames that are manipulative in the sense that they prompt people to form opinions that go against their values and self-interests, or prompt people to form opinions that differ from what their opinions would be with complete information.
In the sections below, this Article identifies five frames commonly used by Sharing Economy Platforms. These frames have helped Platforms mobilize proponents, demobilize opponents, and avoid burdensome regulations. In part, as a result of these frames, numerous market failures have been left unaddressed; thus, they present a good opportunity to examine the manipulative effect of framing on regulating innovation.
Sharing Economy Platforms assert that they help unlock the excess capacity people have in their underutilized things homes, schedules, etc. This is the next generation. It cites internal studies to suggest that most host income is used to pay for regular household expenses. Studies analyzing other cities have found similar results. It even encouraged people to loan out idle cash from savings accounts and stimulus checks. Maybe Not , N.
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Likewise, Uber drivers are no longer simply using the excess capacity in their own cars because Uber is helping drivers rent, lease, and buy new cars, under what some consider predatory terms. Framing the Sharing Economy in the context of sharing excess supply-side capacity is disingenuous.
Most of the time, users are not utilizing their excess capacity; instead, they are using Platforms to market their newly acquired property or full-time services for a profit, but Platforms shy away from exposing that part of the picture. Focusing on the small scale and efficient use of time, space, and property is, in part, what encourages regulators to take a hands-off approach, and allows Platforms to grow without any real restraint. Related to the excess capacity frame is the middle-class, microentrepreneur frame.
This frame has two distinct boundaries. The first relates to the extent to which supply-side users utilize Platforms. The second relates to the classification of these supply-side users as independent contractors as opposed to employees. As this section demonstrates, some supply-side users tip more easily into the full-fledged business side of the spectrum as opposed to microentrepreneurs , and others are more entrenched in, controlled by, and dependent on Platforms, which pushes them into the employee side of the spectrum.
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Times Aug. Via these microbusinesses, users offer the little excess capacity they have for sale, and they, as managers, assume responsibility for all parts of the business that are not outsourced to the Platforms. Where people become micro-entrepreneurs, and local mom and pops flourish once again. Since margins are so thin for these hard-working, middle-class microentrepreneurs, and resources are so limited, Platforms argue that they must not be overly burdened by regulations.
Chris Lehane of Airbnb put it bluntly:. They understand that in a time of economic inequality, this is a question of whose side are you on: Do you want to be on the side of the middle class, or do you want to be opposed to the middle class? Times Nov.