Handbook of Research on Sustainable Consumption
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Handbook of Research on Sustainable Consumption

Edited by Lucia A. Reisch and John Thøgersen

This Handbook compiles the state of the art of current research on sustainable consumption from the world’s leading experts in the field. The implementation of sustainable consumption presents one of the greatest challenges and opportunities we are faced with today. On the one hand, consumption is a wanted and necessary phenomenon important for society and the economy. On the other, our means of consumption contradicts many important ecological and social long-term goals. Set against this background, the Handbook aims to offer an interdisciplinary overview of recent research on sustainable consumption, to draw attention to this subject and to encourage discussion and debate. In 27 chapters, leading authorities in the field provide their expertise in a concise and accessible manner.
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Chapter 26: Collaborating and connecting: the emergence of the sharing economy

Juliet B. Schor and Connor J. Fitzmaurice


Sharing, or practices by which individuals use, occupy, or enjoy something with others, is long-standing. Anthropologists analyse the ways that sharing produces and reproduces social relations (Belk 2009; Gell 1986). In the United States, scholars have studied early examples of sharing in the close-knit farming towns of the colonial Northeast (Merrill 1977). In the mid-twentieth century, Carol Stack described sharing as a survival mechanism for African-Americans living in a community beset by poverty and discrimination (Stack 1974). New forms of sharing have emerged in recent years, in part as a result of the Internet. What is innovative about today’s sharing is that it is a market form in which strangers – rather than kin and communities – exchange goods and services. This contemporary sharing economy creates new ways of provisioning goods and services, and opportunities for what we have called ‘connected consumption’, and what others have termed ‘collaborative consumption’. Connected consumption is predicated on peer-to-peer relationships rather than existing market actors to mediate exchange. As such, it represents an innovation that is capable of reallocating wealth across the ‘value chain’, specifically away from middlemen and towards small producers and consumers. In 2011, Time magazine identified collaborative consumption as one of its ten ideas that will change the world.

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