Platform Capitalism or Alternative Economy?

This year, the Association for Ecological Economic Research (VÖW) invites you to Wuppertal from the 1st to the 5th of October for the 8th Autumn Academy .

Sharing Economy: Platform Capitalism or Alternative Economy?

Sharing in itself is not a new concept and belongs in many cultures heard parts still today in all areas of life to everyday life – not least as a necessity to use scarce resources as sparingly as possible. And yet: in the course of digitization, parts of the Westernized world, most of which has become individualized and property-oriented, have also experienced a much-noticed renaissance. As part of the so-called “sharing economy”, fundamentally new business models, consumer and supply patterns have been tested and successfully brought to market in recent years. Platform vendors such as Airbnb and Uber have revolutionized entire markets and have quickly become major competitors in their respective industries. Initiatives such as foodsharing or urban gardening and co-working show how sharing can create new communities and potentially bring about positive environmental and social impacts. The integration of new mobility services such as car sharing and bike sharing enable new, multimodal transport concepts. Sharing understood as “sharing and sharing” promotes a rethinking of dialogue and decision-making processes. The examples mentioned have a common denominator – they take place at the local level.

Lifestyles, business models and sharing strategies in the city

As many examples show, sharing offers at the local level in particular have the potential for positive social and environmental effects. Here they often have the potential to shape the context, its actors and their behavior. So how can urban development look in the context of the sharing debate? What are the potentials and which solutions might be at the interface between sharing and urban development? In this year’s academy, the potential of sharing in the city in relation to a more sustainable form of economic activity will be examined. Questions to be addressed are: Which types of sharing contribute to a fundamental rethinking of one’s own lifestyle and how does that affect consumer behavior? How can civil society initiatives stand on their own two feet and stabilize or even expand their involvement? To what extent can sharing act as an “entry gate” to sustainable business management? How do companies deal with trend sharing and how does this affect their respective environment?


At the autumn academy, impulses, field visits and intensive group work alternate. Wuppertal companies and sharing initiatives present their strategies and their effects, experts provide a conceptual framework for a sustainable sharing economy and its link with sustainable urban development. Participants will be to use case studies to explore sharing in diversity and impact on business, initiatives and lifestyles, and to creatively explore its potential for alternative and sustainable urban economy. Using the Design Thinking methodology, they go through the process in teams of a problem, user surveys to innovative approaches. The results will be presented at a public closing event of the Autumn Academy as part of a Sharing Day in Wuppertal.

Program & Speakers

The Autumn Academy is organized in cooperation with the junior research group “UrbanUp”, which sets up a diversified academy program with exciting speakers and practical sharing activities and partners. In addition, the Academy is accompanied by a supporting program, which offers plenty of time and space to talk to speakers and participants.

Participation & Applications

The interdisciplinary academy is open to students, graduates, doctoral candidates, postdocs and practitioners of all disciplines. There are a total of 22 seats available. Applications with a curriculum vitae and a meaningful letter of motivation (max 1 page) must be sent to by 30 July 2018. We are also pleased about participants who would like to present their own topic-related work. If interested, a short overview of a possible input (topic, content, presentation form) can be attached to the application. Thanks to the financial support of the Christian Martin Foundation, the participation fee is only € 130 regular / € 90 reduced for members of the VÖW. The contribution includes accommodation, meals, travel expenses within Wuppertal as well as the conference documents.

Duration & location

The autumn academy starts on Monday, 01.10.18 at 12:30, ends on Friday, 05.10.18 at 16.00 and then ends informally in the evening during the Sharing-Day. The event takes place mainly in the Silvio Gesell conference center near Wuppertal as well as cooperation partners of the UrbanUp project and in different places of sharing in Wuppertal.

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