The Sharing Economy’s Transformation of Lonely Trips to Common Experiences: The Airbnb Case
1University of Padova, Italy; 2Ca' Foscari University of Venice, Italy
This research investigates the meanings that consumers give to social practices that take place in the sharing economy. The case study on which this research is based is Airbnb. Within this economic activity, the meaning of ‘home’ has shifted from a private environment to a space that can potentially be shared with strangers. For homeowners – especially middle-class owners – the main reason for participating seems to be the chance to earn money from a short-term rental. Within this form of sharing, there are at least three ways to create a ‘shared experience’: the relationship with the owner, the relationship with other unknown persons in the house or the relationship with people (like friends) with whom the customer is travelling. Considering these relationships means understanding how people experience the sharing economy. For them, cost saving is not the only reason for using Airbnb.
This research is based on qualitative methods and has been carried out in Italy through 28 in-depth interviews with travellers. In brief, there are two main findings:
1. The platform lowers the degree of ‘strangeness’ of the owner and/or of the house. Thus, it emphasises the role of trust as a positive factor for the growth and the development of the sharing economy.
2. The ‘sharing experience’ is a kind of wish – a new travelling experience – that allows consumers to live a different experience compared to hotels, considering a private home is closer to the culture of a particular place.
Airbnb is a recent phenomenon, but for several of the persons interviewed, it is already a ‘new normal’.
Combatting scruffiness. Chaos and order in the retro world
University of Gothenburg, Sweden
This presentation is based on the notion of a disorganized and shabby history of the thrift industry and the fight against mess and squalor as the key to the transformation of secondhand objects and shops from scruffy flea markets to trendy boutiques. During much of the 1900s, flea markets and thrift stores have been associated with the ugly, uncomfortable and almost indecent closely associated with poverty. Meanwhile, the traditional flea market’s chaotic elements have been highlighted as a central aspect of its special aesthetics and appeal. Objects reside in a gray zone between throwing and keeping, between the hopelessly outdated and the potentially kitsch and cool. In the modern inner city 'cozy' shopping areas objects are taking the plunge into store logic where the used, worn and shabby traits are carefully washed away with staff's help. This presentation shows how this transformation is happening using strategies, such as ‘washing away’, ‘shop making’ and ‘creating flows’. The material consists of interviews with store managers and staff, observation and photo documentation of a large number of retro stores in central Gothenburg. It is in the store objects qualify to become goods and thereby get a second chance in process of circulation. By preening, complementing, redoing and putting in new contexts, second hand objects are transformed to fashionable, ‘cool, and ‘kitsch’, that they are given the ‘green values’ and made attractive by being placed in artificial worlds associated with nostalgia and sentiment.
Rethinking Trust and Social Capital in trading Chinese Antiquities
Yuan Ze University, Taiwan
For avoiding opportunism and reducing risk, consumers tend to use interpersonal relations in many consumption decisions both in the search process and in the choice of transaction partners. This paper illustrates the limitation of interpersonal relation in the field of antique market. Owing to antique market is a small scale business; there is no formal organization to regulate the market. Information asymmetry, opportunism, and deceit are normal in the trade. Therefore, what is important in the transactions are personal trust and guanxi as to ensure the transactions. Ironically, this does not guarantee the traded goods would be genuine because there are numerous fakes in market. In the antique market, actors are competing on economic power and social, cultural capitals. Buying or trading antiques is heavily depending on social network in order to obtain fine artifacts. Antique market is about relationship between traders and trustful sources, about traders and customer in negotiating prices, and about knowledgeable expert interpreting the value of a piece of artifact. Rarity and one-of-a-kind made Chinese antiquities transaction a distinctive type of consumption. There is no space for consumers/collectors to shop around and compare prices. Buying antique is similar to gambling, rational choice is under contesting.
I applied a variety of qualitative research techniques to examine intricate relation between Guanxi and knowledge in buying ancient jade. These techniques include extensive use of in-depth interviews, observation and the use of a variety of documentary sources. Field trips were done in Beijing, Shanghai, Hangzhou, Hong Kong, and Taiwan from 2009 to 2015.
Gift Is Not Only the Present, But Also the Future: The Food Offerings of Middle-class Turkish Women
Istanbul University, Turkey
The sociological literature on the transformation of modes of exchange (from Malinowski and Mauss through Polanyi and Sahlins to Caillé and Karatani) tacitly asserts a linear history. According to that linear history, mode of exchange tends to transform from pure gift to commodity exchange, a tendency which is considered as both a cause and an effect of changing social solidarities. On the other hand, the transformation of a small gift practice of middle-class Turkish women, i.e. food offerings to the neighbors paves the way for a counter-argument, which points an alternative history that is more cyclical than linear. In other words, after transforming into a latent indebtedness, food offerings to the neighbors in the course of daily routines of Turkish women tend to take the form of a pure gift within a modernized, individualized, financialized world. Based on a qualitative analysis of the data derived from in-depth interviews, this study at first, aims at describing in detail how this food, and of course the plate traffic takes place in daily lives of middle-class Turkish women. Secondly, this study seeks to illustrate how this practice transforms into something a pseudo-gift, which is still undermining the solidarities by loosening the social ties among neighbors (that is why it is called “pseudo”) while still having a potential to maintain solidarity since it is very close to a pure gift form. All in all, this study is willing to point out alternative forms of exchange in daily life within a world dominated by debt oriented market capitalism.