Understanding the Flat-Sharing Experience: Spatial Ambivalence of the Collaborative Consumption: An Abstract
Collaborative consumption has been defined as “events in which one or more persons consume economic goods or services in the process of engaging in joint activities with one or more others” (Felson and Spaeth 1978, 614). Collaborative consumption has generated a lot of academic interest and is seen by some observers as a new paradigm “where access to goods predominates over exclusive ownership and use” (Huber 2017, 54).
Collaborative consumption spawns individual and collective experiences. Beyond economical and social benefits that are often put forward, little is known about the way individuals organize themselves to collaborate.
Our research explores an offline form of collaborative consumption: the experience of sharing a flat with roommates. Its goal is to understand how the interaction between the subjects and the object (a flat with various spaces) within a situation (living with roommates) unfolds and to characterize the resulting experience.
This research combines two qualitative studies. In study 1, we interviewed 30 young adults, aged between 19 and 23, about their flat-sharing experiences. The data were collected through semi-structured place-based interviews. The demographic breakdown of the sample was balanced by genres. In study 2, we used mobile ethnography and gathered a corpus of 248 photographs of specific zones in the shared flats taken by 30 informants aged between 23 and 38 through Clic & Walk platform. The pictures were commented by our informants who linked them to positive and negative episodes of their flat-sharing experience. The experience of sharing a flat emerges from the analysis as an organized practice with its rules and duties. Rules regulate privacy issues, whereas duties and chores help maintain a clean place.
The flat appropriation process reveals specific emotional geographies (Davidson and Milligan 2004) that create what we refer to as a spatial ambivalence between privacy and togetherness. We suggest that the flat-sharing experience creates control and can be in some cases assimilated to a panopticon experience (Foucault 1977).
References Available Upon Request