What if taxi drivers in New York City or rickshaw operators in Bangalore could start a worker-owned and-operated alternative to Uber with stable hourly wages?
Platform cooperatives reimagine a world where domestic workers can double their income by establishing their own platform—an internet where platforms such as Twitch, Twitter, and Roblox were owned by their streamers, users, and creators. What if small fishing communities in Mexico or farmers in Kerala had the power to determine what data they collected about their work and how they utilized that data?
Platform cooperatives are not a figment of the utopian imagination, but rather a reality that is transforming industries today. Collectives that leverage technology offer an urgent and practical solution to shift how businesses are owned and controlled, allowing workers to make decisions together. In this book, researcher and activist Trebor Scholz explores how these new forms of business, powered by peer principles, are paving the way for a more equitable economy that benefits everyone.
Own This! sets out a program that could change the ways we live, work, and organize.
About the Author
R. Trebor Scholz is a scholar-activist and founding director of the Platform Cooperativism Consortium (PCC) and the Institute for the Cooperative Digital Economy at The New School in New York City. In 2014, he introduced the concept of “platform cooperativism” as a way of bringing the co-op model into the digital economy. Scholz’s articles and ideas have appeared in The Nation, The Chronicle of Higher Education, The Washington Post, Le Monde, and The New York Times, among many other publications.
"Trebor Scholz has tirelessly promoted worker empowerment around the world via platform cooperatives. Going beyond unionization, these co-ops give their employee-owners control over the businesses they run, ranging from banks to taxi companies to recycling firms. Scholz is by turns passionate and analytical, utopian and pragmatic. An excellent read on a critically important topic, Own This! should have global reach and impact." —Frank Pasquale, author of The Black Box Society
"Platform cooperatives are the most exciting and hopeful business model for our collective future. Own This! is the essential, brilliant, accessible guide to this rapidly growing movement. If you are interested in work, technology, climate or the future of humanity-read this book." —Juliet Schor, author of After the Gig
"Scholz is a passionate intellectual activist who devoted himself to looking for alternatives for decades to enhance worker solidarity on a global scale. This is a timely guidebook, a manifesto that provides us hope and light for future generations" —Pun Ngai, author of Made in China
"For over a decade, Trebor Scholz has been an intellectual-activist leader of efforts to bring the cooperative movement into the digital economy. In Own This!, he skillfully combines inspiration and analysis while weaving stories spanning South Korea to New York and South Africa to Maine, confronting challenges through federated scaling, cooperative-union alliances, and state-backed pro-cooperative policies, providing impetus to the endeavor of establishing a pluralist digital commonwealth as a haven against the rising waters of capitalism." —Yochai Benkler, author of The Wealth of Networks
"Scholz artfully explores a comprehensive panorama of scalable alternatives to the VC-fueled startup model. This book is a wave that, like the gentle yet unwavering force of the ocean, serves as a catalyst for change, redefining our understanding of cooperation in the 21st century" —Ines Lopez, Pescadata
"Situates these co-ops both in the now vast (and often terrible) platform business sector as well as in the worker ownership and labor movements, outlines how they work, addresses their advantages and challenges, presents provocative cases and lays out possibilities for the road ahead." —Fred Freundlich, Professor of Cooperative Enterprise, Mondragon University
"While the "sharing economy" has proved to be a disaster for workers and a benefit only for venture capitalists, there is a better way, and Trebor Scholz charts the path for a new economy that's genuinely good for workers, customer and society as a whole. Reaching back through the history of worker-owned cooperatives to the front lines of this new economy unfolding around the world, Own This! is a glimpse of a future worth fighting for from a pioneer in building this new workers movement." —Ethan Zuckerman, author of Mistrust: How Losing Faith in Institutions Provides the Tools to Transform Them