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The sharing economy: Why people participate in collaborative consumption

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Abstract

Information and communications technologies (ICTs) have enabled the rise of so-called “Collaborative Consumption” (CC): the peer-to-peer-based activity of obtaining, giving, or sharing the access to goods and services, coordinated through community-based online services. CC has been expected to alleviate societal problems such as hyper-consumption, pollution, and poverty by lowering the cost of economic coordination within communities. However, beyond anecdotal evidence, there is a dearth of understanding why people participate in CC. Therefore, in this article we investigate people's motivations to participate in CC. The study employs survey data (N = 168) gathered from people registered onto a CC site. The results show that participation in CC is motivated by many factors such as its sustainability, enjoyment of the activity as well as economic gains. An interesting detail in the result is that sustainability is not directly associated with participation unless it is at the same time also associated with positive attitudes towards CC. This suggests that sustainability might only be an important factor for those people for whom ecological consumption is important. Furthermore, the results suggest that in CC an attitude-behavior gap might exist; people perceive the activity positively and say good things about it, but this good attitude does not necessary translate into action.

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