The Relationship between Access Practices and Economic Systems

Giana Eckhardt, Fleura Bardhi

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The access economy is rising in importance in the marketplace. In this conceptual article, we chronicle access practices in market and nonmarket economies. In nonmarket economic systems, access is gained via social exchange and primarily takes the form of sharing. That is, sharing is non-market-mediated access. In the contemporary market economy, economic exchange practices, such as renting, dominate access practices, explaining why the so-called sharing economy is not about sharing. Further, we propose that culture and social class moderate this relationship by creating contexts where social exchange (e.g., sharing) can provide access to resources in market economies. We demonstrate that access and sharing should not be essentialized, as their nature is dependent on the social system in which they are embedded. Thus, future research can focus on parsing out the nuances of how, when, and why access practices are utilized in particular societies and communities.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)210-225
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of the Association for Consumer Research
Issue number2
Early online date9 Feb 2016
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2016

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