Reimagining the city as a commons: local stakeholders’ visions and practices for creating Sydney as a Sharing City

Mrs Inka Santala1

1University Of Wollongong, Wollongong, Australia


In recent years, the ‘Sharing City’ has emerged as a new urban imaginary for socially just and environmentally sustainable future cities. Although the vision entails considerable promise around solidarity, equity and greater citizen empowerment through collaboration and co-creation, no common definition or agenda has yet been identified. This paper arises from a research project that aims to unpack the meanings and practices of this global trend, through a case study of the City of Sydney: how are local stakeholders co-creating a Sharing City? Drawing on participant observation and semi-structured research interviews with sharing advocates, practitioners, and local administrators, this paper explores how different stakeholders frame and perceive sharing in the city, and reveals the diversity of logics and practices through which sharing is being realised in the urban domain. Particularly, the paper addresses the following questions: how does ‘the commons’ come to matter in the governance of sharing; whose visions and interests are taken into account in the strategic process of creating sharing; and how are these being enacted through sharing initiatives? The paper concludes by reflecting on the promise of the Sharing City concept for more just and sustainable urban futures.


Inka Santala is a PhD Candidate in human geography at the University of Wollongong. Her research explores the visions and practices associated with emergent Sharing Cities, with an empirical focus on community-based sharing initiatives in the City of Sydney.


The Institute of Australian Geographers (IAG) is the principal body representing geographers and promoting the study and application of geography in Australia. It was founded in 1958 and since then has promoted, supported and defended Australian geography.

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