Before and after the super actors

How much do we talk about sharing economy on the web, in the news and in academic papers?


As first part of this chapter we wanted to get how many website pages, how press articles and how many academic papers have been dedicated to sharing economy since 2005. We considered these three spheres as representative of any main voice talking about sharing, among the society. In this way we tried to understand whether sharing economy is something that has been debated for a long time or just in the latest years.


The protocol here is simple: we took the four definitions we discussed in the previous chapter, and used them as queries for our three research fields. These fields are represented by three different websites with their related search engines: Google Trends (for websites), Google Scholar (for academic field), and LexisNexis (for press articles). All the four queries were put in each database and were exported results year by year, since 2005 until 2015. In Scholar and LexisNexis you can choose the publication year of your results; in Google search, instead, you need to write a string like after:2004/04/16 before:2004/04/18 after your query.

More precisely, on LexisNexis and Scholar we looked for articles containing the entire phrase "sharing economy" OR "collaborative economy" OR "collaborative consumption" OR "on-demand economy", in order to consider the entire semantic field. In both of the databases, we only looked for articles containing these phrases in their title. This is how we filtered useful articles from those just citing these phrases in their full text, but actually talking about different issues. We took Google Trends for websites analysis because it would explain how relevant each query has been, year by year on Google search.

How to read it

The three trend graphs show the amount of websites, articles and papers written about sharing economy since 2005. In LexisNexis and Scholar graphs, we highlighted the actual amount of full texts downloaded for the next protocols and visualizations, than all the available ones. If on Google Scholar only some full texts are available, in LexisNexis we stated to download no more than 1000 articles per year (all of them are available as full text), even though the amount was much higher in the latest years analized.


The visualization aims to communicate at first glance the idea that the debate around sharing economy is something quite new and recent, especially in the academic field. The number of contents written increases rapidly around 2012. In these year the biggest companies working in sharing economy, like Uber and Airbnb, were having their boom. Another readable insight is the exact correlation between the birth order of trends in Google and of respective Wikipedia articles.


Timestamp: 19/11/2015

Data source: Google Scholar, LexisNexis, Google Trends

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