Durkheim predicted the sharing economy >100 years ago

I hear this blogging thing could really catch on.  Like so many of us, my reading time is divided among my favorite magazines and newspapers, more apps than I can count, and yes, others' blogs.  It's been a long time since I've published anything.  So it seems a good time to give back a bit.

In my first blog, I thought I'd pay homage to my UC Berkeley Political Science Professors (especially Ken Jowitt) and the great Emile Durkheim.  Durkheim is broadly credited with being the father of sociology.  He's pretty much a complete intellectual stud.

So here's a new idea: Durkheim also deserves credit for predicting many elements of our evolving "sharing economy."  In his epic 1893 doctoral dissertation, "The Division of Labor in Society," Durkheim explained how "primitive" societies evolve to modern, capitalist societies based on systems of specialized skills, merits and rewards.  He predicted that we would form coherent societies based on an organic solidarity, or, in simple terms, the fact that we all need each other.  Sure, I could paint my own house.  But I'd be slow and do a crappy job.  I am glad to pay the experts.  They need me too.  The more we each contribute based on our particular skills, the better off society is as a whole.  And so on.

Recently there's been this huge "glocal" movement whereby many of us realize that we're all better off finding these specialists nearby.  That way we build community - and reduce our environmental impact.  Durkheim would have recognized this movement as furthering organic solidarity.

More recently, we're getting even more efficient via the "sharing economy."  CraigsList, eBay, Uber, AirBnB and Rover are innovations in terms of society as well as technology.  They all make us more efficient.  Aggregated across millions of people, these marketplaces make it easier for us to take better advantage of each other's skills.  More sharing means a more competitive economy, more earning potential, and more social cohesion.

It's a pretty exciting time to be alive.

Well, there it is.  A blog entry.


Matthew Bencke

Matt Bencke is an entrepreneur, leader and change agent who drives new business and product strategies based on deep analysis, inspired leadership and focused execution. He has strong successes across technology, strategy, business development, design, e-commerce, marketing and manufacturing. His passion is attracting great talent, fostering a meaningful team culture, and taking performance to new levels. During his tenures at Microsoft, Getty Images and Boeing he has created, advised, led and grown businesses ranging from several millions to billions in size.