The “sharing economy” as we recognize it today started to grow and take hold during the Great Recession. Any time you use a peer-to-peer technology platform to acquire, provide, or share goods or services, you’re taking part in the sharing economy. In less techy speak, that means apps like Instacart, Lyft, and Rover — technology that you use to connect with others for the purpose of sharing skills, goods, and services.
The sharing economy has been criticized, especially recently, for its lack of regulation and sometimes unfair labor practices. Much of that criticism is valid, but we don’t see it as a reason to write off the entire sharing economy — instead, we see it as an imperfect system that has the capacity to create a lot of good. In particular, it seems like these apps have the ability to connect people in new ways — we think “sharing community” might even be a more accurate name.
To that end, we surveyed 1,000 Americans about how they use sharing economy apps, their feelings about apps versus traditional services, and how these apps have affected their local economies, personal relationships, and more.