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Entrepreneurial Activism? Platform Cooperativism Between Subversion and Co-optation

Sandoval, M. ORCID: 0000-0002-0007-2309 (2019). Entrepreneurial Activism? Platform Cooperativism Between Subversion and Co-optation. Critical Sociology, 46(6), pp. 801-817. doi: 10.1177/0896920519870577


Platform cooperativism proposes to create an alternative to the corporate sharing economy based on a model of democratically owned and governed cooperatives. The idea sounds simple and convincing: cut out the corporate middleman and replace Uber with a service owned and managed by taxi drivers themselves, create a version of AirBnb run by cities, or turn Facebook into a platform democratically controlled by all users.This paper discusses the ambivalences of platform cooperativism, exploring both the movement’s potentials to subvert digital capitalism from the inside and the risk of being coopted by it. Platform cooperativism aims to foster social change by creating a People’s Internet and replacing corporate owned platforms with user owned cooperatives. It yokes social activism with business enterprise. As a result, the movement is shaped by tensions and contradiction between politics and enterprise, democracy and the market, commons and commercialisation, activism and entrepreneurship. This paper explores these tensions based on a Marxist perspective on the corrosive powers of capitalist competition on the one hand and a Foucaultian critique of entrepreneurialism on the other. It concludes with a reflection on the politics of platform cooperativism, drawing out problematic implications of an uncritical embrace of entrepreneurialism and highlighting the need to defend a politics of social solidarity, equality and public goods.

Publication Type: Article
Additional Information: Sandoval, M. (2019). Entrepreneurial Activism? Platform Cooperativism Between Subversion and Co-optation. Critical Sociology. Copright © 2019, the author.
Publisher Keywords: platform cooperativism, neoliberalism, co-operatives, activism, entrepreneurship, capitalism, critical media and communication studies, media sociology
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HB Economic Theory
H Social Sciences > HD Industries. Land use. Labor
H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
H Social Sciences > HV Social pathology. Social and public welfare
H Social Sciences > HX Socialism. Communism. Anarchism
P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General)
Departments: School of Policy & Global Affairs > Sociology & Criminology
SWORD Depositor:
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