Are weak relations working? Sharing platforms and social capital.

Andreotti, A., Anselmi, G., & Hoffmann, C.P. (2018). Are weak relations working? Sharing platforms and social capital. Sociologica Del Lavoro, 152(17), 87-103. DOI: 10.3280/SL2018-152005

Users‘ work enables the functioning of sharing platforms, as they dedicate a sizable amount of time to read reviews to select a suitable partner to exchange with. Moreover, they provide ratings and evaluations collected by reputational algorithms, helping users to overcome informational asymmetries. The goal of this paper is to understand whether there are additional side benefits linked to users‘ work on platforms, the key hypothesis being that users‘ work on platforms produces social capital. To investigate this, data from a EU-based multi country survey on participation to the sharing economy will be used, as well as data from focus groups. Empirical results show that as users engage with others they develop a loose common identification based on a common set of ethics. Furthermore, users undertaking more work are more likely to repeat interactions with selected partners.