Sharing economy and automobility: a comparison of app-based and off-line hitchhiking
Iulian Valentin Gabor (University of Bucharest)
Paper short abstract:
Internet infrastructure is facilitating the rise of ride-sharing methods. Users develop different behavioral patterns, depending the way they get to share a journey. The concepts of trust and risk are differently perceived by people that use online ride-sharing apps and by those who are hitchhiking.
Paper long abstract:
As an increasing body of research indicated, we are facing a huge wave of new economic organization. Shifting our focus from an institutional type of trust, to an individual or to a network-based trust, online technologies take advantage of this dynamics and are reshaping our behavior. Companies like Blablacar, Airbnb or Uber, through their web platforms, are creating new patterns of consumption for their users, participating in the same time at a rise of alternative forms of consumption. My research, began in 2016, takes up the case of ride-sharing culture. This field is influenced sometimes by factors like: limited resources or oil price, which encourages sharing between drivers and travelers or commuters. I explore the differences between what I call online hitchhiking (using apps like Blablacar) and street hitchhiking (the 'traditional' way). Using participant observation and informal interviews, I collected data both from drivers (truck, private cars, buses) and hitchhikers. The findings indicate that app-based hitchhikers reference, most often, efficiency, transparency, lower costs, predictability, 'community' membership, and trust. 'Off-line' hitchhikers emphasize 'freedom', euphemize risk, rapport building with drivers and negotiation. As a common characteristic, both practices involve a more sustainable mobility. Keywords: ride-sharing, sharing economy, sustainability, trust, economic exchange, risk, Blablacar
The sharing economy: sharing with whom, sharing what and sharing for what purpose?