Year of Graduation
Motives for Participation in Collaborative Consumption: the Case of Free of Charge Accommodation
Faculty of Sociology
The present work explores the issue of free of charge accommodation in the Couchsurfing.org hospitality network through the lens of Collaborative Consumption theory. Differing from the traditional approach to the economic action, the Collaborative Consumption theory takes into consideration the power of information technologies to boost the making of new communities. This paper studies stages of participation in hospitality networks, the rationality hidden behind this participation, and searches for different kinds of economic actions during the home stay.The empirical base of the study includes in-depth semi-structured interviews analyzed within the Grounded Theory paradigm.As it turned out, the motivation for participation is not limited to the expectations of transactions within the reciprocal network. Moreover, members of the network called "CouchSurfing enthusiasts" may benefit more from helping other members of the network of hospitality.Benefits acquired by network members are quite diverse. Most of them are hard to come up with an adequate replacement in market terms, and therefore participation in the hospitality network is of additional benefits.Unexpectedly the existence of serious entry barriers is revealed, while open-mindedness is considered to be core in the community. This happens due to (implicit) requirements for certain values and actions of the individual, which are formed by community, namely Couchsurfing community. For easy entry into community "gatekeeper" is essential. This may be a friend explaining rules adopted on the site.The participation in various non-market practices may occur, but is not a total practice.It was confirmed that the economic-sociological model of rationality can be called effective because it allows one to explain phenomenon that is quite unobvious from the standpoint of calculative rationality.Of course, this work can be improved and deepened. In particular, further data collection, quoted on the major Russian cities, could clarify whether there all-Russian CouchSurfing culture, or there is an independent circle of Couchsurfers in every major city.