Understanding the new social economy of online
Gernot Grabher & Paula Bialski
As people move around and “develop personalized life projects through being freed from certain structures, so they extend and elaborate their consumption patterns and social networks” (Urry 2011, 213), technological developments that allow people to share and monetize their space, time, and resources are following suit, creating a culture of “collaborative consumption” (Botsman and Rogers, 2010) and an “economy of sharing” (Sacks 2011).
This research sub-project focuses on hospitality networks (like Couchsurfing.com) in order to understand the motivations and practices inherent in low-budget and ‘alternative’ travel – and the way this mobility affects the construct of a city. As Couchsurfing constitutes a social-economy in which monetized equivalence is substituted with non-monetized reciprocity (based on “social currencies” like attention, empathy or time), we attempt to address the socio-economic dimension of “low budget” travel, and contextualize it within the grander theme of old and (seemingly) new formats of sharing (Belk 2010).