Sharing Economy in Russia. Sociological Analysis of Emerging Communities

Wednesday, 18 July 2018
Distributed Paper
Mayya SHMIDT, National Research University Higher School of Economics, Russian Federation
Over the past decade we observed the enormous rise of alternative forms of organizing economy such as sharing economy. Terrains of the phenomena which are widely discussed are peer-to-peer accommodation and transportation, on-demand services, collaborative finance.Since origins of sharing economy activities can be traced back to foundation of eBay and Craigslist as marketplaces where buyers and sellers meet to recirculate goods, by 2010 platforms amounted to some thousands, provided goods and services from clothes-swap to peer-to-peer banking services. While ones argue that sharing economy address anti-capitalist rhetoric and strive for inventing novel means of resource allocation, others assume that this “label is either strategically or unwittingly employed to expand the market” (Widlok 2016, p.193). Thus, sharing economy is quite contradictory in its fundamental reasoning and remains undertheorised, since the focal point of interest was switched to technological composition of Web platforms, attempts to set legislative agenda, assessing market size and presence of collaborative consumption platforms and estimating revenues generated by platforms. Present contribution conceptualize sharing economy as non-commercial organization of exchange, brought in existence by digital platforms, where users which are strangers to one another organize peer-to-peer networks, thereby creating a community in which no one knows each other by name, but has the right to invest their resources and use the resources of others. General and specific features of formation of social communication were specified by comparing two cases of sharing economy platforms in Russia: darudar (sharing goods) and timebank (sharing time and services). What is the motivation underlying participation in sharing economy activities? How is egalitarian idea of sharing is contested: are sharing practices of wealthy and deprived categories of participants demarcated? Thus, by presenting the qualitative descriptive model of exchange practices within two community ,this study gets a relatively novel picture of sharing economy functioning in Russia.