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Share And Share Alike: How The Modern World Affects Our Tendency To Share

Date:
August 25, 2009
Source:
University of Chicago Press Journals
Summary:
From giving directions to a stranger to cooking a meal for loved ones, sharing is an essential part of the human experience. A new study unravels the complexities of sharing, and examines how changes in our culture affect sharing.

From giving directions to a stranger to cooking a meal for loved ones, sharing is an essential part of the human experience. A new study in the Journal of Consumer Research unravels the complexities of sharing and examines how changes in our culture affect sharing.

"Sharing is a fundamental consumer behavior that we have either tended to overlook or to confuse with commodity exchange and gift giving," writes author Russell Belk (York University, Toronto). In his study, Belk explores differences between sharing, gift giving, and exchanging marketplace commodities.

"Rather than absolute distinctions, I see these as categories that share fuzzy boundaries," writes Belk. "Although both sharing and gift-giving have some elements that often (but not always) make them more communal, loving, and caring than marketplace exchange, sharing differs from gift-giving in that it is non-reciprocal. The infant who receives his or her mother's nurturing care and sustenance does not incur a debt. Nor does the child who receives food, shelter, and love from parents receive an itemized bill upon leaving the nuclear family home."

Societal changes can affect the nature of sharing, notes Belk. Examples of threats to sharing may be the individualization of family phones and meals, the decline of free public education, and the shrinking of public broadcasting.

On the other hand, the Internet provides many healthy models for increased sharing. Belk notes that forums, bulletin boards, blogs, social networking sites, wikis, open-source software development projects, and websites where people share expertise, advice, and opinions all contribute to a sharing community.

Belk provides some suggestions for promoting sharing in today's world. "I suggest that two keys to promoting contemporary sharing are an expanded sense of self that embraces other people more than other things and a greater sense of 'sharing in,' where possessions are seen as ours rather than mine and yours," Belk concludes.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Chicago Press Journals. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Russell Belk. Sharing. Journal of Consumer Research, Published online August 20, 2009

Cite This Page:

University of Chicago Press Journals. "Share And Share Alike: How The Modern World Affects Our Tendency To Share." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 25 August 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/08/090824182443.htm>.
University of Chicago Press Journals. (2009, August 25). Share And Share Alike: How The Modern World Affects Our Tendency To Share. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 21, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/08/090824182443.htm
University of Chicago Press Journals. "Share And Share Alike: How The Modern World Affects Our Tendency To Share." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/08/090824182443.htm (accessed October 21, 2014).

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