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Challenges to Participation
in the Sharing Economy
Airi Lampinen (@airi_)
Mobile Life Centre, Stockholm University
Open Co...
Access > Ownership
Unused Value = Waste
The sharing economy
is an emerging phenomenon
that encompasses
the use of networked tools
to enable a range of
social and ...
“Sharing economy” and “collaborative consumption”
work great as summons for bringing people together
based on shared inter...
Peer production &
‘sharing’ online
Antecedents
Hospitality &
intercultural exchanges
• Hospitality as an exchange that incorporates both
material and symbolic transactio...
Monetary & Non-Monetary
Peer-to-Peer Exchange
Starting points
• “ONLINE” & “OFFLINE” INTEGRATED:

Platform-enabled peer-to-peer exchange
typically entails face-to-face ...
• INTERPERSONAL PERSPECTIVE 

to participation in the sharing economy
• FOCUS ON SOCIAL INTERACTIONS

that take place in t...
1. Fears of indebtedness & free-riding
2. When motivation isn’t enough
3. Reluctant peripheral participants
4. Discriminat...
1
Indebtedness may be
a bigger concern than
free-riding
Local online exchange
Knocking on the door of an exchange partner: 

Can I trust a stranger? How will the interaction go?
...
Social'exchange'is'vital'to'social'
interac1on,'community,'and'solidarity'
'
The$norm$of$reciprocity$
$ $ reciprocity$can$...
Eagerness(To(Contribute(
• Consistent)expression)of)reward)from)
contribu5ng)something)of)value)to)others)in)
the)communit...
! I!gave!him!a!li+le!cash!for!coffee!so!that!also!
made!me!feel!good!that!I!at!least!somehow!paid!
the!favor!back!to!him.!S...
Lessening'the'Discomforts'of'Indebtedness:'
Understanding+&+accep/ng+the+indirect+
nature+of+generalized+exchange+
+
It#fe...
Maybe&it&could&have&been&even&smoother&if&
&in&the&offer&there&would&have&been&a&men7on&
of&sharing&the&costs&of&gas &
Less...
“Yeah,'there'was'then'a'li/le'bit'of'a'hassle,'I'had'a'lot'
of'work'and'he'was'always'busy'in'the'evenings.''
But'then,'I'...
Lessening!the!Discomforts!of!Indebtedness:!
Bartering)and)Exchanging))
for)a)Third)Party)
)
! I!just!said!that!I!can!keep!...
2
Motivation alone

isn’t always enough
Local Online Exchange
for Single Parents
Lampinen, A., Huotari, K., Cheshire, C. (2014).
Access to Participation in the Sh...
•  Participants wanted to connect with
others in similar situations and
shared experiences
•  At the same time, they neede...
“Part of the problem with being a
single parent is it’s kind of a vicious
circle. Because you’re a single parent,
you tend...
“It’s just now that they’re a little bit
older that I’m starting to be able to do
some things. When the kids are
younger, ...
“Most of the time, I do spend my life as
a single parent. The challenges are
definitely time management, trying to
figure ou...
•  To flourish, local online exchange
necessitates (some kind of) critical
mass of participation
•  Yet, participants expre...
“I’m a single parent in that my son’s
father and I aren’t together, but I’m
actually getting remarried. I have a
partner i...
“With single parents, it’s hard because
even though there might be a big group
of people who are single parents, we all
ha...
•  The perceived risks of participation are very
contextual
•  Identifying and articulating the ties that could
bind peopl...
Alternative approach:

Pop-up initiatives
One way to address this challenge 

is to create light-weight forms of participa...
3
Social Context and

Peripheral Participants
The sharing economy reconfigures
social life in urban settings. 

It affects not only those who choose
to participate but a...
Network hospitality
Opening one’s home to a stranger requires trust,

so does staying with a previously unfamiliar person....
Social context and
peripheral participants
• The host-guest relationship does not take place in
a vacuum.
• Peripheral par...
v
Challenges)Related)to)Account)Sharing))
in)the)Context)of)Network)Hospitality)
1.  Presen(ng*mul(ple*people*in*a*single*...
v
“Right&now,&it’s&just&male,&
female,&or&mul5ple&people.&
And&then&you&can&put&mul5ple&
pictures&or&you&can&describe,&
bu...
v
Challenge(II:((
Nego%a%ng(over((
Access(to(Domes%c(Spaces((
(
”Yeah%usually%the%way%we%do%it%is%
he%checks%the%account,%...
“Yeah,&I&would&guess&that&we'd&
probably&write&it,&because&I&bet,&like,&
if&we&had&a&really&fun&:me,&then&we&
would&probab...
•  Key$challenges$of#account#sharing#in#the#context#of#
networked#hospitality#exchange#include##
1.  presen8ng#mul8ple#peo...
4
Homophily and
Discrimination
Sociability & Money
in Network Hospitality
• Social and financial motivations are intertwined;
need not be contradictory
• ...
Social motivations:
Meeting new people
“For me, it’s not that easy to meet people here in Helsinki.
Of course, I could go ...
Social motivations:
Adding excitement to
everyday life
“[...] if we would not do this, it could be even a bit dull
sometim...
Remote hosts valued the
social nature of hosting, too
“One of the most gratifying things has been the personal 

hand-writ...
Selecting guests:
Homophily
“I try to give a good picture of who I am in the profile
because then the guest who is interest...
Selecting guests:
Discrimination
“Well, if I think about who we have declined most,
they’re probably Russian people.
We’ve...
Price determination involves
social considerations
“I could sure get more guests if I would lower the
price. [...] But I'v...
Homophily and Discrimination
in Network Hospitality
• Desire to experience “strangeness”, yet selectivity
regarding which ...
Let’s complicate
the dominant narrative of
“the sharing economy”
1. Fear of indebtedness can hinder participation
2. Motivation alone isn’t (always) enough:

Structural and logistical bar...
Thank you!
Questions?
Airi Lampinen (@airi_)
Mobile Life Centre
Stockholm University
http://airilampinen.fi/publications
Photo credits
• http://www.flickr.com/photos/donnagrayson/109052424
• http://www.flickr.com/photos/katewares/9505200323/
• h...
This presentation leverages materials
from the following conference talks:
• Ikkala, T., & Lampinen, A. (2015) Monetizing ...
Challenges to Participation in the Sharing Economy / Airi Lampinen / Open Commons Kongress 2015
Challenges to Participation in the Sharing Economy / Airi Lampinen / Open Commons Kongress 2015
Challenges to Participation in the Sharing Economy / Airi Lampinen / Open Commons Kongress 2015
Challenges to Participation in the Sharing Economy / Airi Lampinen / Open Commons Kongress 2015
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Challenges to Participation in the Sharing Economy / Airi Lampinen / Open Commons Kongress 2015

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Talk at Open Commons Kongress 2015 in Linz, Austria

Abstract:
The sharing economy is an emerging phenomenon that encompasses the use of networked tools to enable a range of social and economic exchanges, such as hospitality exchange, ridesharing, and recycling of goods. Moreover, the sharing economy reconfigures social life in urban settings. It affects not only those who take part but also those who are excluded or do not wish to participate. Based on a series of empirical studies of non-monetary and monetary forms of peer-to-peer exchange, this talk addresses challenges to participation in network hospitality (Airbnb, Couchsurfing) and local online exchange (Sharetribe) — even when the potential benefits are considered desirable and necessary. The talk complicates the dominant narrative of the sharing economy as an accessible and convenient alternative for traditional markets by highlighting issues as diverse as fear of indebtedness and tendency to socialize with those similar to oneself.

Congress program available at: http://opencommons.linz.at/cms/veranstaltungen/open-commons-kongress-2015/

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Challenges to Participation in the Sharing Economy / Airi Lampinen / Open Commons Kongress 2015

  1. 1. Challenges to Participation in the Sharing Economy Airi Lampinen (@airi_) Mobile Life Centre, Stockholm University Open Commons Kongress April 29, 2015
  2. 2. Access > Ownership
  3. 3. Unused Value = Waste
  4. 4. The sharing economy is an emerging phenomenon that encompasses the use of networked tools to enable a range of social and economic exchanges, such as hospitality exchange, ridesharing, and recycling of goods.
  5. 5. “Sharing economy” and “collaborative consumption” work great as summons for bringing people together based on shared interest in the phenomenon. The terms are not necessarily very helpful analytically. Both can mean different things for different people, even when it comes to specific platforms. Drawing the boundaries of “what counts as the sharing economy” is tricky and not necessarily very productive.
  6. 6. Peer production & ‘sharing’ online Antecedents
  7. 7. Hospitality & intercultural exchanges • Hospitality as an exchange that incorporates both material and symbolic transactions 
 (Brotheron, 1999) • Hospitality as a fundamental form of social interaction that establishes solidarity 
 (Selwyn, 2000) Antecedents
  8. 8. Monetary & Non-Monetary Peer-to-Peer Exchange
  9. 9. Starting points • “ONLINE” & “OFFLINE” INTEGRATED:
 Platform-enabled peer-to-peer exchange typically entails face-to-face interaction and often concerns physical assets • ON THE INDIVIDUAL LEVEL: 
 Social and financial motivations are often intertwined; need not be contradictory
  10. 10. • INTERPERSONAL PERSPECTIVE 
 to participation in the sharing economy • FOCUS ON SOCIAL INTERACTIONS
 that take place in the context of peer-to-peer exchange services • BASED ON A SERIES OF EMPIRICAL STUDIES
 of non-monetary and monetary forms of peer-to- peer exchange This talk
  11. 11. 1. Fears of indebtedness & free-riding 2. When motivation isn’t enough 3. Reluctant peripheral participants 4. Discrimination Four challenges to participation
  12. 12. 1 Indebtedness may be a bigger concern than free-riding
  13. 13. Local online exchange Knocking on the door of an exchange partner: 
 Can I trust a stranger? How will the interaction go? Lampinen, A., Lehtinen, V., Cheshire, C., & Suhonen, E. (2013) Indebtedness and reciprocity in local online exchange. CSCW’13 Proceedings of the ACM 2013 conference on Computer supported cooperative work. Suhonen, E., Lampinen, A., Cheshire, C. & Antin, J. (2010) Everyday Favors: A Case Study of a Local Online Gift Exchange System. Proceedings of the ACM 2010 international conference on Supporting group work.
  14. 14. Social'exchange'is'vital'to'social' interac1on,'community,'and'solidarity' ' The$norm$of$reciprocity$ $ $ reciprocity$can$increase$solidarity$ between$exchange$partners$through$ either$symbolic$or$communica8ve$ value$over$and$above$the$instrumental$ value$of$the$benefits$provided $$ $(Molm$et$al.$$2007)$ $ $ $ $ $ $ $ $ $ Sense$of$Indebtedness$ $ a$state$of$tension$having$mo5va5onal$ proper5es$such$that$the$greater$its$ magnitude,$the$greater$will$be$the$ efforts$to$reduce$it $$ $(Greenberg$and$Shapiro,$1971)$ $ $ $ $ $ $
  15. 15. Eagerness(To(Contribute( • Consistent)expression)of)reward)from) contribu5ng)something)of)value)to)others)in) the)community) • Receiving)an)item)or)favor)from)others)o<en) led)to)desire)to)give)something)away) Aversion(to(Indebtedness(and( Percep7ons(of(Fairness( • Common)descrip5ons)of)uncomfortable,) awkward,)unpleasant)feelings)of) indebtedness)when)receiving)something) without)giving)anything)in)return) • It)was)generally)considered)be@er)to)give%too% much)than)to)feel)indebted)to)others) )So…how)do) users)respond)to) feelings)of) indebtedness?) Primary(Themes(From(User(Descrip7ons( of(Exchange(Experiences( (
  16. 16. ! I!gave!him!a!li+le!cash!for!coffee!so!that!also! made!me!feel!good!that!I!at!least!somehow!paid! the!favor!back!to!him.!So!then;!I!did!not!feel!at! all!that!I!would!have!been!a!burden. ! Lessening'the'Discomforts'of'Indebtedness:' Offering(small(tokens(of(apprecia3on
 '( (
  17. 17. Lessening'the'Discomforts'of'Indebtedness:' Understanding+&+accep/ng+the+indirect+ nature+of+generalized+exchange+ + It#feels#like# okay,#I#can#borrow#this .## And#then#if#someone#needs,#for#instance,## a#hammer#from#me,#I ll#lend#it.## That#way#we ll#be#okay#with#the# community. #
  18. 18. Maybe&it&could&have&been&even&smoother&if& &in&the&offer&there&would&have&been&a&men7on& of&sharing&the&costs&of&gas & Lessening'the'Discomforts'of'Indebtedness:' Managing&expecta,ons& Framing&offers&and&requests&carefully& &
  19. 19. “Yeah,'there'was'then'a'li/le'bit'of'a'hassle,'I'had'a'lot' of'work'and'he'was'always'busy'in'the'evenings.'' But'then,'I'took'the'a<tude'that'he'has'to'come'and' pick'it'up'from'me'from'here'if'he'wants'to'borrow'it”'' Lessening'the'Discomforts'of'Indebtedness:' Minimizing'efforts'needed'' in'exchange'processes' ' '
  20. 20. Lessening!the!Discomforts!of!Indebtedness:! Bartering)and)Exchanging)) for)a)Third)Party) ) ! I!just!said!that!I!can!keep!an!eye!out! for!skates!of!his!size!and!then!there! happened!to!be!a!pair![on!offer]. !
  21. 21. 2 Motivation alone
 isn’t always enough
  22. 22. Local Online Exchange for Single Parents Lampinen, A., Huotari, K., Cheshire, C. (2014). Access to Participation in the Sharing Economy: The Case of Local Online Exchange in a Single Parents’ Network. Extended abstract presented at Internet Research 15, Daegu, South Korea.
  23. 23. •  Participants wanted to connect with others in similar situations and shared experiences •  At the same time, they needed resources that others in similar circumstances were likely to lack •  Hard to cater to both of these needs at once Challenge I
  24. 24. “Part of the problem with being a single parent is it’s kind of a vicious circle. Because you’re a single parent, you tend to not have enough time. Because you don’t have enough time, it’s harder to get the resources that you would need to make being a single parent easier.” –Mother of two adopted children
  25. 25. “It’s just now that they’re a little bit older that I’m starting to be able to do some things. When the kids are younger, you just can’t go anywhere. Well, you get to go places where you can take your kids, basically. It’s that or you stay home. ” –Mother of two adopted children
  26. 26. “Most of the time, I do spend my life as a single parent. The challenges are definitely time management, trying to figure out my life around my kid, being able to get my finances in order. ” “Then, being a single parent, it’s not so easy to travel, so in the same area is definitely important also.” –Mother of of a six-month-old son
  27. 27. •  To flourish, local online exchange necessitates (some kind of) critical mass of participation •  Yet, participants expressed a strong need for trust & privacy: a need for being in control over who gets to hear their concerns •  Again, hard to achieve both at once ChallengeII
  28. 28. “I’m a single parent in that my son’s father and I aren’t together, but I’m actually getting remarried. I have a partner in the house, and my son’s father and I co-parent. I feel like there’s a place in there where, sort of having—like really wanting to understand and make sure that I’m in the right grouping.” –Mother of a five-year-old son
  29. 29. “With single parents, it’s hard because even though there might be a big group of people who are single parents, we all have different experiences and we’re all in different places with that and different levels of acceptance or happiness with it. Some people, it’s their own choice to be single. Some people, it’s not.” –Father of a seven-year-old son and a four-year-old daughter
  30. 30. •  The perceived risks of participation are very contextual •  Identifying and articulating the ties that could bind people together as a community is hard – subtle yet significant differences to address •  For whom is it easy to take part in different types of ‘sharing economy’ activities? •  While direct monetary investment may not be required, other issues, such as the necessity to plan ahead and commit time, may block access to participation and its benefits Conclusion
  31. 31. Alternative approach:
 Pop-up initiatives One way to address this challenge 
 is to create light-weight forms of participation 
 that do not necessitate long-term commitments
 and the creation of close relationships.
  32. 32. 3 Social Context and
 Peripheral Participants
  33. 33. The sharing economy reconfigures social life in urban settings. 
 It affects not only those who choose to participate but also those who are excluded, those who do not wish to participate, and/or those who get pulled into exchange processes without their own initiative.
  34. 34. Network hospitality Opening one’s home to a stranger requires trust,
 so does staying with a previously unfamiliar person. Lampinen, A. (2014) Account Sharing in the Context of Networked Hospitality Exchange. 
 CSCW’14 Proceedings of the ACM 2014 conference on Computer supported cooperative work. Ikkala, T., & Lampinen, A. (2015) Monetizing Network Hospitality: Hospitality and Sociability in the Context of Airbnb. CSCW’15 Proceedings of the ACM 2015 conference on Computer supported cooperative work.
  35. 35. Social context and peripheral participants • The host-guest relationship does not take place in a vacuum. • Peripheral participant that can get pulled into the hospitality exchange, such as family members, housemates, neighbors, a possible landlord…
  36. 36. v Challenges)Related)to)Account)Sharing)) in)the)Context)of)Network)Hospitality) 1.  Presen(ng*mul(ple*people*in*a*single* profile* 2.  Coordina(ng*nego(a(ons*over*access*to* domes(c*space* 3.  Represen(ng*in*a*fair*way*the*reputa(on* hosts*have*accumulated*together*over* (me*
  37. 37. v “Right&now,&it’s&just&male,& female,&or&mul5ple&people.& And&then&you&can&put&mul5ple& pictures&or&you&can&describe,& but&there’s&no&way&to&actually& say&we&are&this&person,&this& person&and&this&person.&And& not&all&of&us&have&a&way&to&log& in&and&see&the&site&unless&we& just&share&my&login.”&" Challenge"I:" Presen&ng(Mul&ple(People(in(One(Profile(( 
 "( (
  38. 38. v Challenge(II:(( Nego%a%ng(over(( Access(to(Domes%c(Spaces(( ( ”Yeah%usually%the%way%we%do%it%is% he%checks%the%account,%but%he% sends%me%the%details%and%then% we%discuss%whether%those%days% work%and%then%I%respond%to%him% and%he%writes%back%and%then%he% starts%cc'ing%me%on%any%email% exchanges%he%has.”(( %
  39. 39. “Yeah,&I&would&guess&that&we'd& probably&write&it,&because&I&bet,&like,& if&we&had&a&really&fun&:me,&then&we& would&probably&want&to,&like,&sit& together,&and&say,&oh,&this&was&fun,& that&was&fun,&and&write&about&it.& And&if&we&were&like,&a&li>le&peeved,& then&I&think&we&would&want&to,&like,& talk&together&about&how&to&be&polite& but&also&be&honest”.&" & Challenge"III:""" Sharing(the(Benefits(of(( a(Trustworthy(Reputa6on(" ( (
  40. 40. •  Key$challenges$of#account#sharing#in#the#context#of# networked#hospitality#exchange#include## 1.  presen8ng#mul8ple#people#with#a#single#profile# 2.  coordina8ng#and#nego8a8ng#responding#to#CouchRequests# 3.  sharing#the#benefits#of#a#good#reputa8on#in#a#fair#way## # •  Similar$issues$may#occur#in#other#instances#of#network# hospitality#as#well#as#in#systems#that#facilitate#online# exchange#or#ridesharing# # •  Amidst#the$rising$rhetoric$of$a$‘reputa6on$economy’,# what#are#the#inclusions,#exclusions,#and#inequali8es#that# reputa8on#metrics#may#renew#or#create,#especially#if#they# fail#to#acknowledge#people’s#account#sharing#prac8ces?# Conclusion$ $
  41. 41. 4 Homophily and Discrimination
  42. 42. Sociability & Money in Network Hospitality • Social and financial motivations are intertwined; need not be contradictory • Pleasant and meaningful social encounters are an important motivation for participation in hospitality exchange (Germann Molz, 2014)
  43. 43. Social motivations: Meeting new people “For me, it’s not that easy to meet people here in Helsinki. Of course, I could go to a bar or something, but it’s not that easy for people of my age to meet people like that. But sometimes I have really nice conversations 
 and moments with my guests, people who are total 
 strangers to me.” (Alfonso, 53)
  44. 44. Social motivations: Adding excitement to everyday life “[...] if we would not do this, it could be even a bit dull sometimes, you know, since our everyday life pretty much consists of just working and taking kids to their hobbies and so on. It can be quite hectic.” (Sami, 31)
  45. 45. Remote hosts valued the social nature of hosting, too “One of the most gratifying things has been the personal 
 hand-written messages I have received from my guests. Airbnb automatically reminds people to write the reviews, 
 but no one asks the guest to leave you a personal note. 
 […] They give you a warm feeling.” (Pertti, 33)
  46. 46. Selecting guests: Homophily “I try to give a good picture of who I am in the profile because then the guest who is interested in staying at my place will likely be a kind of person whom I am interested in hosting. For example, I state here that I am not into drinking or smoking and that I really like to talk to people. And mostly the guests who end up at my place are quite similar to me.” (Sophia, 22)
  47. 47. Selecting guests: Discrimination “Well, if I think about who we have declined most, they’re probably Russian people. We’ve hosted Russian guests, but still I notice that I think twice before I accept. It’s a big and diverse country, 
 and I know I shouldn’t think this way, but still...” (Ida, 35)
  48. 48. Price determination involves social considerations “I could sure get more guests if I would lower the price. [...] But I've wanted to keep the price a bit high ’cause I want to— How should I put it? Well, sort of reach a slightly higher standard. [...] And maybe the higher price keeps the worst troublemakers and exploiters away.” (Pia, 25) “[T]he good thing in keeping the price a bit low […] 
 is that you get to choose [the guests] […]. 
 For the host, it is easier that way.” (Pertti, 33)
  49. 49. Homophily and Discrimination in Network Hospitality • Desire to experience “strangeness”, yet selectivity regarding which “strangers” to engage with • Homophily (the tendency of individuals to associate and bond with similar others) as a potential source of discrimination • Can monetary transactions and lessened obligations for intense socializing create room for increased openness to diversity in comparison to non-monetary forms of hospitality?
  50. 50. Let’s complicate the dominant narrative of “the sharing economy”
  51. 51. 1. Fear of indebtedness can hinder participation 2. Motivation alone isn’t (always) enough:
 Structural and logistical barriers 3. Participation doesn’t happen in a vacuum: 
 Social context & peripheral participants 4. Discrimination can stem from the tendency to socialize with those similar to ‘us’ Four challenges to participation
  52. 52. Thank you! Questions? Airi Lampinen (@airi_) Mobile Life Centre Stockholm University http://airilampinen.fi/publications
  53. 53. Photo credits • http://www.flickr.com/photos/donnagrayson/109052424 • http://www.flickr.com/photos/katewares/9505200323/ • http://www.flickr.com/photos/alisonchrisAne/11288183315/ • http://www.flickr.com/photos/49024304@N00/4521267075/ • https://www.flickr.com/photos/virtualfarmboy/80878746 • https://www.flickr.com/photos/demiller/142176230/ • https://www.flickr.com/photos/wsdot/5601019859/ • https://www.flickr.com/photos/chrisgold/8446028761/sizes/l/in/ photostream/
  54. 54. This presentation leverages materials from the following conference talks: • Ikkala, T., & Lampinen, A. (2015) Monetizing Network Hospitality: Hospitality and Sociability in the Context of Airbnb. CSCW’15 Proceedings of the ACM 2015 conference on Computer supported cooperative work. • Lampinen, A., Lehtinen, V., Cheshire, C., & Suhonen, E. (2013) Indebtedness and reciprocity in local online exchange. CSCW’13 Proceedings of the ACM 2013 conference on Computer supported cooperative work. • Lampinen, A. (2014) Account Sharing in the Context of Networked Hospitality Exchange. CSCW’14 Proceedings of the ACM 2014 conference on Computer supported cooperative work. • Lampinen, A., Huotari, K., Cheshire, C. (2014). Access to Participation in the Sharing Economy: The Case of Local Online Exchange in a Single Parents’ Network. Extended abstract presented at Internet Research 15, Daegu, South Korea. • Suhonen, E., Lampinen, A., Cheshire, C. & Antin, J. (2010) Everyday Favors: A Case Study of a Local Online Gift Exchange System. Proceedings of the ACM 2010 international conference on Supporting group work.

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