Fostering sustainability through technology-mediated interactions: Conviviality and reciprocity in the sharing economy

Marylyn Carrigan, Solon Magrizos, Jordon Lazell, Ioannis Kostopoulos

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    17 Citations (Scopus)
    117 Downloads (Pure)


    This article addresses the lack of scholarly attention paid to the sharing economy from a sociological perspective, with respect to the technology-mediated interactions between sharing economy users. The paper provides a critical overview of the sharing economy and its impact on business and communities and explores how information technology can facilitate authentic, genuine sharing through exercising and enabling conviviality and non-direct reciprocity.

    The paper begins with a critique of the technology-mediated sharing economy, introduces the concept of conviviality as a tool to grow and shape community and sustainability within the sharing economy and then explores reciprocity and sharing behaviour. Finally, the paper draws upon social exchange theory to illustrate conviviality and reciprocity, using four case studies of technology-enabled sharing.

    The paper contributes to the emerging debate around how the sharing economy, driven by information systems and technology, affects social cohesion and personal relationships. The paper elucidates the central role conviviality and reciprocity play in explaining the paradoxes, tensions and impact of the sharing economy on society. Conviviality and reciprocity are positioned as key capabilities of a more sustainable version of the sharing economy, enabled via information technology.

    The findings reveal that information technology-mediated sharing enterprises should promote conviviality and reciprocity in order to deliver more positive environmental, economic and social benefits. The diversity of existing operations indicated by the findings and the controversies discussed will guide the critical study of the social potential of sharing economy to avoid treating all sharing alike.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)919-943
    Number of pages25
    JournalInformation Technology & People
    Issue number3
    Early online date20 Feb 2020
    Publication statusPublished - 18 Jun 2020

    Bibliographical note

    Copyright © and Moral Rights are retained by the author(s) and/ or other copyright owners. A copy can be downloaded for personal non-commercial research or study, without prior permission or charge. This item cannot be reproduced or quoted extensively from without first obtaining permission in writing from the copyright holder(s). The content must not be changed in any way or sold commercially in any format or medium without the formal permission of the copyright holders.


    This work was supported by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, under Cooperative Agreement No. NA84AA-H-00010, Dr. Dan Tarpley, technical monitor.


    • Conviviality
    • Reciprocity
    • Sharing economy
    • Sustainability

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Information Systems
    • Computer Science Applications
    • Library and Information Sciences


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