Edited by Russell W. Belk, Giana M. Eckhardt and Fleura Bardhi
Chapter 10: The new face of bartering in collaborative networks: the case of Italy’s most popular bartering website
Bartering is a type of moneyless market exchange in which persons interact in order to find mutual satisfaction through the exchange of goods for other goods. In given conditions, bartering platforms integrate discrete market transactions into a collective and dynamic process in which social exchange patterns emerge. While bartering is still a marginal exchange practice, it is becoming increasingly popular owing to significant changes in people’s values and lifestyles, and owing to the digital revolution, which is dramatically increasing opportunities for strangers to interact, exchange, and collaborate. The authors present empirical evidence from an online bartering community in Italy whose characteristics allow members to follow different bartering styles, from more individualistic and market-oriented ones to more social and collectivistic ones. This confirms that new exchange practices exist (and can thrive) alongside the dominant market exchange paradigm, and that they now go beyond the strict anti-consumption domain. They represent hybrid interaction types that possess elements from two distinct regimes of value (economic and social). This strongly affects the sphere of value, which should be conceived as a process that stems from significant interactions and is situated midway between the worlds of price and pricelessness.
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