From socialising capital to socialising capitalism

My review of Stewart Lansley’s A Sharing Economy for the SPERI blog.

Stewart Lansley’s valuable 2012 book The Cost of Inequality offered one of the few sustained attempts to link inequality to the causes of the 2008 economic crisis, insofar as it was deemed a core characteristic of the pre-crisis model of economic growth. Lansley’s latest book, A Sharing Economy, is an attempt to flesh out an alternative to this flawed model. As such, Lansley has deepened his critique of the British growth model with reference to what is most acutely missing from it: sharing.

Whilst the ‘sharing’ concept is of great value I doubt the ‘sharing’ moniker will stick, at least among progressive thinkers. It is already being used disingenuously to describe the dubious employment model underpinning new consumer technology platforms such as Uber (the so-called ‘ride-sharing’ firm, which Brigid Delaney argues is more akin to hustling than sharing), as Lansley acknowledges. It has also been attached to peer-to-peer lending initiatives, some of which increasingly look like a mis-selling scandal waiting to happen.

However, none of this means that the principles underpinning the ‘sharing’ concept are not useful for progressives seeking to transform the British growth model. In short, sharing some of the assets through which capitalist accumulation functions will enable us to better share the rewards too.  What is less compelling, however, is Lansley’s view that ‘social wealth funds’ – to which most of the book is devoted – are the principal vehicle through which to bring about a sharing economy.

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Image: Policy Press

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