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The Uber Economy: A platform for centre-left revival?

30 October 2014
The Uber Economy: A platform for centre-left revival?

New peer-to-peer sharing platforms and the 'internet of things' have the potential to shake-up old industries and deliver higher rates of economic growth, higher living standards, more innovation and lower barriers to entry to entrepreneurship. In short, if embraced considerately, they can help the centre-left deliver on promises of more fairly shared prosperity.

It can also be a key space for the renewal of social democracy in the 21st Century as ‘creative destruction’ and the perennial gale of technological change require new safety nets and social contracts in place of Europe's moribund welfare settlements.

Against the backdrop of cities across Europe and the US experiencing backlashes against companies using technology to shake-up industries, such as Uber and Airbnb, three essays explore this debate.

Arun Sundararajan, professor at New York University’s Leonard N. Stern School of Business, argues that new peer-to-peer “sharing” platforms can boost living standards. But governments and the market need to share responsibility for developing a new social safety net to protect consumers and employees.

Nesta’s Helen Goulden and Kathleen Stokes argue that the “collaborative economy” is unlocking new potential across industries,  helping individuals, community groups and small and large companies to radically alter how they interact. They argue that governments must become enablers and shapers of innovation, but this requires a deeper understanding of the technological, economic and social changes taking place.

Dean Baker, co-director of the Washington D.C. based Centre for Economic and Policy Research, argues that the hype surrounding some of the most successful companies masks how some compete unfairly. Whilst technological innovation is vital, tax and regulatory systems need to keep pace with the digital age.

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