In this book chapter, the authors discuss collaborative consumption (CC) and sharing economies (SE) as forms of socio-economic order and technical systems that connect to historical, cultural, and technological developments in society and economic collaboration. Also, given the variety of what can be understood as being part of CC and SE, they delineate the cornerstones – the somewhat contradictory confluence of the economy and consumption with collaboration and sharing. The meta-level aim of their analysis in the chapter overall is to question the supposed novelty of CC and SE in relation to social, cultural and economic forms of human conduct.
Two central questions span the chapter: 1. To which extend do consumers behave differently in contexts of CC and a SE? 2. What is the nature of consumer agency in these assumingly novel forms of conduct? Even though an increasing amount of literature on CC and SE focusses on the potential for commercial applications, the authors consider an elaboration of such business models as beyond the scope of the chapter. In what follows, they first consider a historical perspective presented through economic collaboration and reciprocities in archaic community exchange. Then, they critically assess the current state of CC and SE including the techno-believers hope in a networked society underlying much of CC and SE as well as the potentiality of societal challenges, increased democracy, inclusive participation, and sustainable environmental development. In conclusion, the authors feature room for further engagement and provide avenues for future investigation.
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