Handbook of the Sharing Economy
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Handbook of the Sharing Economy

Edited by Russell W. Belk, Giana M. Eckhardt and Fleura Bardhi

With the radical growth in the ubiquity of digital platforms, the sharing economy is here to stay. This Handbook explores the nature and direction of the sharing economy, interrogating its key dynamics and evolution over the past decade and critiquing its effect on society.
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Chapter 27: Performing (in) the community: accounting, biopower and the sharing economy

Penelope Van den Bussche and Jeremy Morales


This chapter studies how the discourse of “community” on online platforms in the sharing economy intersects with accounting techniques to construct users as entrepreneurs of the self. Drawing on Foucault’s analysis of biopower, the authors show how referring to a “community” encourages users to display private aspects of their life and authenticity online, engaging their self in the platforms and inscribing life in power relations. They further argue that user-generated reviews constitute accounting techniques that produce calculable spaces (a population of calculated subjects), calculating selves (individuals who start acting as entrepreneurs), and valuations of life itself. Reviewing practices also create visibilities that foster the emergence of norms and rituals through which users reaffirm their belonging to the community. In this sense, accounting techniques perform the community. The authors conclude that community-building through accounting constitutes an advanced form of biopower, turning individuals into entrepreneurs of the authentic and private self.

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