Challenges to Participation in the Sharing Economy: The Case of Local Online Peer-to-Peer Exchange in a Single Parents’ Network

Airi Lampinen, Kai Huotari, Coye Cheshire
pp. 16 – 32, download


This paper depicts an initiative to deploy an online peer-to-peer exchange system for a community network of single parents – a group of people in need of goods, services, and social support in their local neighborhoods. We apply participant observation and semi-structured interviews to uncover key issues that can hinder the emergence of sharing practices in local community networks of this type. Our study illustrates how pressures related to single parenthood can impede opportunities to engage in peer-to-peer exchange, even when community members view the social and material benefits of participation as desirable and necessary. This complicates the prevalent narrative that local peer-to-peer exchange systems are an accessible and convenient alternative to traditional markets. Moreover, we discuss our collaboration with the community as well as the developers of the sharing platform, highlighting the challenges of user-centered design in the sharing economy.

keywords: Local online exchange, Peer-to-peer exchange, Social exchange, Marketplace, Sharing economy, Collaborative consumption, Single parenthood 

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