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Sociology and Anthropology

SOAN FALL COLLOQUIUM

Date: 12:40pm PDT September 23 Location: MILLER 102

MILLER 102

SOAN FALL COLLOQUIUM

The Shared City: Negotiations over the Regulation of Short-term Rental Properties in Portland, OR, by Sarah Warren, Associate Professor of Sociology 

In 2014, Brian Chesky, the CEO of Airbnb, announced that his company would be partnering with cities on an initiative he called the “Shared City.” This announcement came in response to criticism leveled at Airbnb for its unwillingness to work with cities, comply with local regulation and help jurisdictions collect lodging taxes. The first city to receive this official designation from the world’s most powerful short-term rental platform company was Portland, Oregon. Although Airbnb is no longer using the framework of Shared City to define its relationships with cities, counties and states, it is a useful analytic lens for probing the relationship between the “shared” economy of short-term rentals and cities. In this project, I take Portland, Oregon, as a central case study and compare it with other similar cities across the U.S. to examine the complications that arise when cities respond to and try to regulate the powerful, venture capital-backed companies that proclaim themselves part of the sharing economy. As the first “Shared City,” Portland is an ideal place to examine this process. It has a long and varied relationship with short-term rental platforms companies, particularly Airbnb. At the same time, other cities have responded to Airbnb in different ways, resulting in patchwork-like context of agreements between Airbnb and local jurisdictions. My research suggests a double-bind for the shared city: even when cities create and pass clear regulations, they depend on the very companies they are regulating to provide them data in order to enforce the regulations. Thus, the companies gain greater participation in and control over the governance process.

Sociology and Anthropology

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