From Trash to Treasure: Freecycle.Org As a Case of Generalized Reciprocity

This study examines as a gift system with a focus on identifying how reciprocity is enacted. Analyses of netnography, survey, and interview data revealed differences between Freecycle and other gift economies due to the predominance of a “generalized” reciprocity, where goods are given without expectation of anything in return. This contemporary version was witnessed outside kin groups in a virtual community made up of individuals with weak ties but a high level of trust. Reciprocity is realized through the forum’s structure and rules, community, and benefits of membership. Freecycle appears to satisfy both altruism and the egoism of commoditization.


Michelle R. Nelson and Mark A. Rademacher (2009) ,"From Trash to Treasure: Freecycle.Org As a Case of Generalized Reciprocity", in NA - Advances in Consumer Research Volume 36, eds. Ann L. McGill and Sharon Shavitt, Duluth, MN : Association for Consumer Research, Pages: 905-905.


Michelle R. Nelson, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, USA
Mark A. Rademacher, University of Wisconsin-Madison, USA


NA - Advances in Consumer Research Volume 36 | 2009

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