The Hybrid Economies of Collaborative Networks

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Recent consumer research has examined contexts where market-based exchange, gift-giving, sharing, and other modes of exchange occur simultaneously and obey several intersecting logics, but consumer research has not conceptualized these so-called hybrid economic forms nor explained how these hybrids are shaped and sustained. Using ethnographic and netnographic data from the collaborative network of geocaching, this study explains the emergence of hybrid economies. Performativity theory is mobilized to demonstrate that the hybrid status of these economies is constantly under threat of destabilization by the struggle between competing performativities of market and nonmarket modes of exchange. Despite latent tension between competing performativities, the hybrid economy is sustained through consumer–producer engagements in collaborative consumption and production, the creation of zones of indeterminacy, and the enactment of tournaments of value that dissičate controversies around hybrid transactions. Implications are drawn for consumer research on the interplay between market and nonmarket economies.

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Journal of Consumer Research, Volume 42, Issue 1, June 2015, Pages 152–176,