Kellen Zale


The sharing economy-the rapidly evolving sector of peer-topeer transactions epitomized by Airbnb and Uber-is the subject of heated debate about whether it is so novel that no laws apply, or whether the sharing economy should be subject to the same regulations as its analog counterparts. The debate has proved frustrating and controversial in large part because we lack a doctrinally cohesive and normatively satisfying way of talking about the underlying activities taking place in the sharing economy. In part, this is because property-sharing activities-renting your car out to a tourist for a day, paying to spend the weekend in a stranger's spare bedroom-blur the familiar binary divisions of personal and commercial, gratuitous and nongratuitous, formal and informal, that the law employs to characterize human activities. Because we lack a coherent analysis of these underlying property-sharing activities, any judgment about the sharing economy's social value or attempts to regulate it are incomplete and confusing at best, and possibly inaccurate or counter-productive as well.

This Article brings definitional clarity and coherence to this discourse by unpacking the underlying activities taking place within the sharing economy and developing a conceptual framework and taxonomy of sharing. By being more precise about what we mean when we talk about the sharing economy, and situating these activities with respect to existing legal institutions and shifting social norms, this Article provides an essential foundation for academics producing future scholarship, as well as for policymakers