THE airbnb “MOVEMENT” FOR DEREGULATION
New research published at the University of Manchester with Ethical Consumer magazine explores how movements of landlords have been set up all over the world to fend off threats to Airbnb’s business model. The company hired hundreds of ‘community organisers’ since 2014 to set up over 400 ‘Home Sharing Clubs’ in cities all over the world, including the UK.
New research published at the University of Manchester with Ethical Consumer magazine explores the relationship between companies in the new digital economy and the political ‘movements’ they fund for avoiding threats to their business model.
It shows how ‘grassroots lobbying’ techniques used in tobacco, pharmaceutical and fossil fuel industries are becoming repurposed by digital platforms, enabled through their collection of user data. The case study is Airbnb, who have hired hundreds of ‘community organisers’ since 2014 to set up over 400 ‘Home Sharing Clubs’ in cities all over the world. They are greatest in number in cities where Airbnb faces the most pressure from local governments and housing campaigners such as Edinburgh, Barcelona, Berlin, New York, and San Francisco.
The research shows that Airbnb curates their Home Sharing Clubs to ensure that members are individuals or small businesses and not the professional landlords who own the majority of the platform’s listings and provoke most concern among city councils.
“My mission was actually to keep [those landlords] away,” one former staff member said.
Airbnb also provide refreshments for host meetings, placards for protests, and transport, said former staffers.
With support and dialogue from groups such as lobbying transparency organisation Corporate Europe Observatory, civil organising NGOs such as Community Organisers and Ella Baker School of Organising and housing campaigners Acorn, Greater Manchester Tenants Union and Living Rent, the report calls for statutory lobbying registers, increased resources for municipal governments to protect local housing, and a review of the data gathered and held by digital platforms for political purposes.
You can download a copy of the report here.