Based on research for our MIT book “Sharing Cities”, this presentation argues the case for cities to harness sharing for justice and sustainability. I will highlight the failings of economic framings of sharing and smartness, which position commercial intermediaries as the go-to experts on sharing; rather than the cities, charities and communities that have much longer and deeper experience in managing shared resources, spaces, infrastructures, facilities and services.
Such framings also underlie fruitless polarized public debate over the potential and role of commercial sharing platforms such as Uber and Airbnb. Genuine sharing cities need to both enable and regulate the collaborative economy. But they also have the power and opportunity to harness the potential of sharing to rebuild social capital and a shared urban commons. I will outline ways in which cities that open themselves to cultural and political disruption can flourish by engaging with the rich diversity of sharing practices and organisations that are enabled by modern technologies and collective values.