How platform businesses mobilize their users and allies: Corporate grassroots lobbying and the Airbnb ‘movement’ for deregulation

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

This article analyzes and theorizes the political strategies of businesses in the new digital ‘platform’ economy. Airbnb, Uber and meal delivery companies have transformed travel, urban space and repertoires of everyday exchange; they are also transforming norms around governance. Central to platforms corporate political strategies is the use of corporate grassroots lobbying (CGL), the selection, mobilization, resourcing and coordination of ordinary users and grassroots allies to influence the public and policy-making process. The article argues that platforms build on, and make five innovations to, the most common existing repertoires of CGL. Four main approaches of CGL among these businesses are also identified: temporary mobilization; curated storytelling; front groups; and grassroots alliances. The article demonstrates how these approaches to CGL are deployed and combined, using Airbnb as the main case study. Finally, I reflect on the implications of the findings for the platform economy, corporate political activity and socioeconomic change.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1917-1943
Number of pages27
JournalSocio-Economic Review
Volume21
Issue number4
Early online date19 Jun 2023
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2023

Keywords

  • platform economy
  • corporate grassroots lobbying
  • sharing economy
  • platform politics
  • Airbnb
  • astroturfing
  • regulation
  • Uber
  • platform power

Research Beacons, Institutes and Platforms

  • Sustainable Consumption Institute

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