Activism, sustainability and the sharing economy: The rise of community energy
This paper situates the rising interest in the ‘sharing economy’ in the context of the new politics of climate change, and provide a framework for thinking about the role of law and lawyers in relation to the sharing economy, particularly the transformation of the energy sector.
The ‘sharing economy’ has risen to prominence in recent years as recession, outsourcing, environmental depletion and alienation drive workers and consumers into new forms of economic action. As a catch-all term, it has captured quite a bit of attention from the mainstream press, from NPR to Forbes and The Economist. In these press accounts, the understanding of what the ‘sharing economy’ entails is relatively narrow, however there is robust debate about the scope, and even utility, of the phrase. This debate is healthy - and should be prolonged rather than jettisoning the term - and should be illuminated through a more legally-inflected lens than is currently the case.
This paper presents findings from the emergent community energy sector in Australia and Britain to probe the divergent socio-economic imaginaries that law enables through cooperation and gifts, as well as, more publicly, constrains through bans and restrictions.
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