Special Issue "Law and Socio-economic relations of the Sharing Economy"

A special issue of Laws (ISSN 2075-471X).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 31 May 2021.

Special Issue Editors

Dr. Sally Zhu
Guest Editor
University of Glasgow
Interests: property law; sharing economy; legal theory; contract law; critical legal studies
Prof. Dr. Bronwen Morgan
Assistant Guest Editor
University of New South Wales
Interests: regulation; law and society; socio-legal studies; sharing economy; social and solidarity economy; social enterprise; climate change; law and economic development

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

In the past decade, the sharing economy has rapidly grown from a handful of obscure startups to become almost an economic sector in its own right. The pioneering firms which have now become household names stake their value proposition on a business model of encouraging property owners to become micro-entrepreneurs and monetise their idle assets. At the same time, the sharing economy challenges existing practices related to co-operatives, time banks, and the commons: these partly resonate and partly jar with the new vision of a decentralised, technology-mediated economy of peers. These rapid developments have challenged our assumptions of what constitutes economic value, producer and consumer, ownership and use, and so on. Challenging these fundamental legal categories poses many implications for law, yet to date there has been little attention paid to these issues, and no comprehensive attempts have been made to address the gaps in regulation exposed by the declining usefulness of these categories. How ought we to reconstruct these new economic activities when our existing legal forms prove inadequate? Who should bear the risk and liability for loss in a peer-to-peer exchange? What is the legal nature of the relationship between platforms and their users, and between participants and sharing in general, and how does this impact their behaviours and dynamics?

The focus of this Special Issue is to analyse the intersections between the sharing economy and the remits of private law broadly construed, in order to further understand their interactions. This would encompass all obligations, tort, and property aspects of the sharing economy and/or platform economies. Topics such as user agreements, product and personal liability, agency and employment (not including precarity of gig work), and so on will be considered. The focus of this Special Issue also includes issues surrounding platforms constructing their own internal 'law' (regulation of activity and inbuilt dispute mechanisms) through the use of private law instruments, as well as the connection with debates around self-regulation versus external regulation. Approaches might involve delineating areas where legal doctrines impede sharing practices, or conversely where law could be used to promote or benefit sharing. Approaches might also involve drawing out tensions caused by the application of law to sharing relationships where legal doctrines pose a risk to the integrity of sharing, and vice versa.

The scope of this Special Issue will encompass all remits of private law from common and civil law traditions. This includes contract, obligations, tort/delict, and property (real and personal) law, along with their related specialised topics which include but are not limited to consumer rights and protections, consumer credit, corporate practices, agency, employment (excluding gig work), risk, insurance, product and personal liability, data, privacy, land law, housing and tenancy (excluding zoning regulations and public policy), contract terms, remedies, and alternative dispute resolutions. Interdisciplinary approaches that are directly concerned with these issues are also welcome.

The purpose of this Special Issue is to stimulate conversations around the topic of how private law interacts with the socio-economic dynamics of the sharing economy, an area that has drawn comparatively less attention from commentators. A deeper and more comprehensive understanding of the dynamics of private law in this area will be crucial to building a diversified, fair, and resilient sharing economy.

Dr. Sally Zhu
Prof. Dr. Bronwen Morgan
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a double-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Laws is an international peer-reviewed open access quarterly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1000 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.


  • Sharing Economy
  • Platform Economy
  • Circular economy
  • Peer-to-Peer
  • Private Law
  • Contract Law
  • Property Law
  • Tort Law
  • Delict
  • Consumer Law
  • Corporate Law
  • Insurance
  • ADR
  • Right to repair
  • Socio-legal studies

Published Papers

This special issue is now open for submission.
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