Publication details

Rendering the actually existing sharing economy visible: social networks, non-market exchanges and mutual help in Central and Eastern Europe

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Year of publication 2016
Type Appeared in Conference without Proceedings
MU Faculty or unit

Faculty of Social Studies

Description In the last quarter-century, Central and East European societies have experienced some of the most profound instances of economic neoliberalisation. While the processes of marketisation and privatisation were initially externally driven by international institutions, domestically the market also enjoyed an elevated symbolic status as part of ‘civilising mechanisms‘ destroyed under socialism. With the focus of much of the post-socialist scholarship on the process of ‘transition’ to the market economy, it has been largely overlooked that Central and East European societies harbour localised, informal and nonmarket practices such as mutual help, household food production and surplus distribution that defy the dominant neo-liberal trends. This paper argues that despite their outward appearance as manifestations of an individualised agency and responsibilisation, these practices constitute an alternative, sharing economy. While not necessarily perceived as sites of resistance to market capitalism, these spaces are viewed by practitioners as constituting valuable domains of culturally motivated human interactions. The paper shows that these spaces nurture – through enjoyment – trust, cooperation, mutual help and efficient use of resources and hence, by extension, greater personal and local resilience. Empirically, the paper is based on recent research into extensive networks of sharing economies in Czechia and Poland. Large-scale questionnaires (2000 respondents in Czechia and 1000 respondents in Poland) were used to map out the extent, depth and types of nonmarket sharing economies in these two countries. Focus groups and in-depth interviews were employed to uncover motivations for people’s involvement in the sharing economy.
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