Saving time, saving money, saving the planet, 'one gift at a time': a practice-centred exploration of free online reuse exchange

FODEN, Michael (2015). Saving time, saving money, saving the planet, 'one gift at a time': a practice-centred exploration of free online reuse exchange. Ephemera : theory and politics in organization, 15 (1), 41-65.

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Online reuse networks seek to reduce waste by connecting people who have something they no longer want with others who might have a use for it. The intention is that 'everyone wins': givers are saved the hassle of disposal, recipients save money and the ecological burden of consumption is eased. Existing research has tended to focus on individuals' motivations for involvement. As part of a wider study of how alternative consumption practices become embedded in everyday life, this paper follows a different line of enquiry, taking its orientation from how theories of practice conceptualise what people do and how this changes. The initial emphasis is on establishing 'what sort of practice' free online reuse is, what makes it different from other ways of acquiring and disposing, and on identifying its constituent materials, competences and meanings. The focus then shifts to how these elements are variably integrated in the performance of reuse. First, what are the implications for how people go about giving and receiving when small details are changed relative to other similar practices? Findings suggest that technologically mediated reuse 'communities' connect some people but exclude others. Eliminating money from the exchange process gives participants access to goods they would otherwise struggle to afford, but at the same time raises questions as to how goods are allocated, potentially privileging other unequally distributed material and cultural resources. Second, the meanings of reuse vary from context to context, in turn corresponding to different kinds of performance. Any given performance can, meanwhile, belong to a number of different practices at the same time.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: Issues title : 'Saving' the city : collective low-budget organizing and urban practice
Research Institute, Centre or Group: Centre for Regional Economic and Social Research
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Depositing User: Sarah Ward
Date Deposited: 27 Feb 2015 11:50
Last Modified: 19 Aug 2015 16:49

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