Access and Excess in the P2P Economy: A Comparative Approach
Scholars and commentators continue to struggle to define the economic activity that underlies the Peer-to-peer (P2P) economy (the services offered by platforms such as Airbnb, Uber, Lyft, and TaskRabbit). Initially, scholarship and media subscribed to the notion of “sharing”—but this was soon found to be an inaccurate and inadequate description.1 Now, a common definition of the economic activity embeds the concept of “access.” Accordingly, what characterizes this economic model is that it enables temporary access to goods and services.2 The notion of “access” is also in accord with the assumption that the practice facilitates a switch from consumerist models of ownership to borrowing.3 Definitions are critical: they are not a simple matter of semantics but, rather, are the way we frame the particular economic model that guides, or should guide, the regulatory response.
Professor Aloni clarifies the misconceptions about access in the P2P economy and the consumer pattern that the economic model enables. It then provides a theory for regulating this economic activity based on the definition of “excess capacity,” using economic theory to generate basic principles of regulation. Finally, to explore the possibilities of regulating access-to-excess capacity, Professor Aloni suggests lessons from the way other nations have regulated the P2P economy.
Erez Aloni, Assistant Professor of Law, Whittier Law School
Erez Aloni is an assistant professor at Whittier Law School. His main research and teaching interests lie in the legal regulations surrounding the lives of the family. In particular, his work explores the financial and distributional aspects of laws governing families and the intersection of family law with private law. Professor Aloni’s current research focuses on pluralistic theory and the way it can inform regulatory dilemmas concerning family law and other areas, such as the emerging market of the so-called sharing economy. Professor Aloni’s scholarship has been published in the UCLA Law Review, the Harvard Journal of Law and Gender, and the Washington Law Review, among others.
Before joining Whittier Law School, Aloni held the Center for Reproductive Rights Fellowship at Columbia Law School. Prior to the fellowship, Aloni completed his master’s and doctoral degrees at the University of Pennsylvania Law School, where he also taught a seminar on sexuality and the law.