Sharing Cities: A Case for Truly Smart and Sustainable Cities

Published by: The MIT Press
Release Date: November 20, 2015
Pages: 432
ISBN13: 978-0262029728
Buy the Book: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, IndieBound, Books-A-Million, The MIT Press


The future of humanity is urban, and the nature of urban space enables, and necessitates, sharing—of resources, goods and services, experiences. Yet traditional forms of sharing have been undermined in modern cities by social fragmentation and commercialization of the public realm. In Sharing Cities, Duncan McLaren and Julian Agyeman argue that the intersection of cities’ highly networked physical space with new digital technologies and new mediated forms of sharing offers cities the opportunity to connect smart technology to justice, solidarity, and sustainability. McLaren and Agyeman explore the opportunities and risks for sustainability, solidarity, and justice in the changing nature of sharing.

McLaren and Agyeman propose a new “sharing paradigm,” which goes beyond the faddish “sharing economy”—seen in such ventures as Uber and TaskRabbit—to envision models of sharing that are not always commercial but also communal, encouraging trust and collaboration. Detailed case studies of San Francisco, Seoul, Copenhagen, Medellín, Amsterdam, and Bengaluru (formerly Bangalore) contextualize the authors’ discussions of collaborative consumption and production; the shared public realm, both physical and virtual; the design of sharing to enhance equity and justice; and the prospects for scaling up the sharing paradigm though city governance. They show how sharing could shift values and norms, enable civic engagement and political activism, and rebuild a shared urban commons. Their case for sharing and solidarity offers a powerful alternative for urban futures to conventional “race-to-the-bottom” narratives of competition, enclosure, and division.

Featured in “The top 20: a year of reading immersively,” Nature’s top 20 2015 books!


Sharing Cities is a wake-up call to policy makers, businesspeople, and community leaders: There has never been a better—or more urgent—time to build a shared urban future.”
Stanford Social Innovation Review

“In Sharing Cities, environmental consultant Duncan McLaren and urban-policy scholar Julian Agyeman lay out, with impressive depth, clarity and wisdom, a comprehensive prescription for a sharing paradigm..[they] describe how other cities can foster inclusivity and sharing through prudent adjustments in policy and priorities, provision of open data and more thoroughgoing input from citizens at the grass-roots level.”
Colin Ellard, Nature

“As pioneers of the sharing cities movement, Duncan McLaren and Julian Agyeman have done us a great service by articulating a vision which is human centered, hopeful, as well as practical. They show us through impeccable scholarship and illuminating case studies that sharing cities are not only one of the best opportunities to address inequality and global warming, but also that we’re already half way there.”

Sharing Cities is a comprehensive and thoughtful guide to how the principles of the sharing economy will affect the spaces where we live, work, and play. If you want to understand the possibilities and challenges of the sharing paradigm to transform the way cities are designed, read this book.”
Rachel Botsman, coauthor of What’s Mine Is Yours: How Collaborative Consumption is Changing the Way We Live

“There are relatively few books out there that really introduce a new paradigm for cities, a new lens through which to understand what urban sustainability could look like. This book does that, and rather than just sharing theory, it shares the story of real cities successfully making the sharing city real.”
Brent Toderian, urbanism consultant, TODERIAN UrbanWORKS; former Director of City Planning, Vancouver, Canada

“In C40 we know that the most successful cities of the future will be those that are best able to learn from their peers. Sharing Cities cogently demonstrates that collaboration within cities is equally critical.”
Mark Watts, Executive Director, C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group

“This is a remarkably comprehensive overview of many dimensions of the sharing movement and the sharing economy. While surveying diverse perspectives and critiques, the authors provide a clear social and economic justice lens. Every mayor, city policymaker, and citizen changemaker should read this book’s case studies, get ideas, and implement them!”
Janelle Orsi, Cofounder of Sustainable Economies Law Center; author of Practicing Law in the Sharing Economy

“McLaren and Agyeman have produced an impressively far-reaching, global account of sharing initiatives rooted by concern for social justice and human connection. With its unique urban focus this work is a vital contribution for those in the field as well as an ideal undergraduate text.”
Juliet B. Schor, author of Plenitude: The New Economics of True Wealth

Sharing Cities imagines a new radical politics of solidarity that goes much beyond the current neoliberal rhetoric of a sharing economy. Its breadth and scope and the range of case studies used to illustrate the argument on a new sharing paradigm are impressive and thought-provoking. Sharing Cities is sure to provoke reflection and action within academic, policy, and civil society circles in times to come.”
Ayona Datta, School of Geography, University of Leeds