This paper aims to focus on collaborative consumption, that is, the peer-to-peer (P2P) exchange of goods and services facilitated by online platforms. Anchored in the access paradigm, collaborative consumption (e.g. accommodation rental and ridesharing services) differs from commercial services offered by firms (e.g. business-to-customer [B2C] carsharing). The aim of this study is to examine the nuanced styles of collaborative consumption in relation to market-mediated access practices and socially mediated sharing practices.
Following the general research trend on mobility services, the context of long-distance ridesharing is chosen. Data collection was conducted using participant observation as peer service provider, 11 ethnographic interviews of consumers and a netnographic study of digital artifacts.
Using practice theory, ten ridesharing activities were identified. These activities and the nuances in the procedures, understandings and engagements in the ridesharing practice led to the distinction of three styles of collaborative consumption: communal collaborative consumption, which is when participants seek pro-social relationships in belonging to a community; consumerist collaborative consumption, performed by participants who seek status and convenience in the access lifestyle; and opportunistic collaborative consumption, when participants seek to achieve monetary gain or personal benefits from abusive activities.
By taking a phenomenological approach on collaborative consumption, this study adds to the understanding of the sharing economy as embedded in both a utilitarian/commercial economic system and a non-market/communal social system. The three styles of collaborative consumption propose a framework for future studies differentiating P2P exchanges from other practices (i.e. B2C access-based services and sharing).
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