Collaborative Economy Practices and Communities in Switzerland – A Case Study

The general principle of “collaborative consumption” enables the effective and efficient coordination, acquisition, distribution, and sharing of many kind of different resources, e.g., vehicles, housing, or fertile land. Apart from the well-known for-profit sharing services such as Airbnb, Uber, and TaskRabbit, an increasing amount of community groups and organizations have established not-for-profit cooperatives that often prioritize environmental, social, and cultural values within their local communities.

The goals of the master project are (1) to conduct an empirical research study in the form of in-depth interviews and observations in both commercial and non-for-profit organizations (e.g. in the context of sharing personal artifacts and/or bike sharing); and (2) to compare and contrast sharing practices throughout these services and provide a comprehensive interpretation of the results. Particularly, we would be interested in utilizing practice-based approaches (e.g. Shove’s theory of social practice) within the data analysis. This project requires strong analytical skills and a willingness to learn about a novel and emerging research field. Experience with empirical research is a plus (e.g., ethnography, seminar work in human-computer interaction) though supervising guidance is available. Proficiency in any of the Swiss official languages (mostly German, French, or Italian) is an asset.