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The Sharing Economy and its Paradoxes: A Sociological Study of Sharing Communities in Russia
Stockholm University, Department of Sociology.
2019 (English)In: Universe of Russia, ISSN 1811-038X, Vol. 28, no 2, p. 148-171Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

The paper studies the variety of interaction practices and motivations for participation and identifies common and specific features of self-organization by comparing three platforms: Darudar (sharing goods), Bank Vremeni [Time Bank] (sharing time and services) and Couchsurfing (sharing accommodation and leisure).The data, which was triangulated, includes: (i) 25 in-depth interviews conducted with experts and active users of the platforms, (ii) ethnography from participant observation of users’ offline meetings, (iii) systematic online observation. This study employs a blended ethnography/netnography approach – studying the sharing economy communities both online and face-to-face to provide ‘thick’ description of community-building. We theorize that sharing in the sharing economy is a separate principle of resource allocation, which is characterized by the priority of goods over the structure of relations between parties. In contrast to the reciprocity principle, the recipient in sharing is selected with respect to a fixed amount of resources which the donor possesses. Sharing is moving far beyond the boundaries of kindred, friend, partner or other personal relationships, as far as the counterparty is selected among the participants of an extended network of social contacts. The circle of people who can enjoy the benefits of a joint resource expands to the many thousands of users of the virtual sharing platform. What motivates the well-resourced users of the sharing economy platforms, who possess economic and cultural capital, to become practitioners of sharing? Aspiration for community-building, deriving from the extrapolation of the self to the aggregate level: the ‘extended self’. Sharing contributes to a sense of an imaginary community, making ourselves an integral part. Practically, sharing transforms into a ritual chain: from the preparation of resources for exchange to the choice of counteragent, communication before the act of sharing, during and after, all of which create a full part of social life. When offering to share material and immaterial objects, participants of the platforms offer a part of themselves – talents and opportunities, communication and empathy, belonging to cultural tradition. In return, they receive a means of reducing loneliness and overcoming social alienation.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2019. Vol. 28, no 2, p. 148-171
Keywords [en]
sharing, collaborative consumption, sharing economy in Russia, sharing vs. gift exchange, netnography, case study, Couchsurfing, Time Bank, Darudar
National Category
Sociology
Research subject
Sociology
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-393547DOI: 10.17323/1811-038X-2019-28-2-148-171OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-393547DiVA, id: diva2:1354014
Available from: 2019-09-24 Created: 2019-09-24 Last updated: 2019-10-11Bibliographically approved

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Publisher's full texthttps://mirros.hse.ru/index.php/mirros/article/view/8942

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Shmidt, Mayya

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