commons collaborative economy

Photo by Vitor Monteiro on Unsplash

The commons collaborative economy refers to collaborative consumption, production, sharing, and exchange among distributed groups of peers — supported by a digital platform — in conditions that empower them and society as a whole. The concept is in direct contrast to extractionist and explorative modalities, represented by companies like Uber and Airbnb. The commons collaborative economy results from the encounter of four trajectories of socio-economic innovation and democratization: the social and solidarity economy, including the cooperative tradition; the open knowledge of the commons; the environmental sustainability of the circular economy; and the gender perspectives of the feminist economy. Its enterprises support fair, sustainable, inclusive, and distributed patterns. Its business, governance models, and philosophy place the citizens in the central role as producers and decision makers in the economy, and ensure that economic growth is connected to the needs of society.

Barcelona city government believes that the commons collaborative economy is better for city residents than the commercial-oriented collaborative economy; hence it is promoting it as such. Moreover, the city council considers collaborative economy policies should be produced collaboratively. It was for this purpose that it formed BarCola, a working group between Barcelona City Council and the city’s commons collaborative economy sector, represented by 20 enterprises. It was also why it supported the organization of Procomuns, a forum for policy co-creation.

Procomuns has developed and proposed over 120 related policy recommendations for Barcelona, including specific measures related to work. These recommendations are informed by the research of the Dimmons group at IN3 (Open University of Catalonia), the P2PValue Project, and the Procomuns conference co-organized by Barcelona City Council in March 2016. The goal of these policy recommendations is to promote fair, respectful and non-exploitative working conditions, particularly in collaborative economy projects. This includes the elimination of labor exploitation, sexual harassment, and gender gaps. This also includes the protection of “responsible citizen producers” as a new agent that generates the economic and social commons, and the fighting of corruption and “revolving doors” in the collaborative economy policy field.

These policy recommendations have been embraced by Barcelona’s city council. An implementation plan for the citizen-approved policies has been drawn up and funded, and the implementation phase has begun. Furthermore, the policies are not the only thing of interest: the highly collaborative policy formulation process is also worth noting.

View the full commons collaborative economy policy:

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This article was adapted from our latest book, “Sharing Cities: Activating the Urban Commons.” Download your free pdf copy today.

Mayo Fuster Morell


Mayo Fuster Morell |

Mayo Fuster Morell is the Dimmons director of research at the Internet Interdisciplinary Institute of the Open University of Catalonia. Additionally, she is faculty affiliated at