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ACE, Divia Jimenez Encarnacion, Byggnadsteknik

From consumption to sharing: Generating knowledge to support urban governance of the sharing economy


Diskussionsledare: Universitetslektor, Yuliya Voytenko Palgan, Lunds universitet

Examinator: Biträdande professor, Oskar Modin, Vatten Miljö Teknik, Arkitektur och samhällsbyggnadsteknik, Chalmers

Huvudhandledare: Senior forskare, Leonardo Rosado, Byggnadsteknikol, Arkitektur och samhällsbyggnadsteknik, Chalmers


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The increasing rates of household consumption and their environmental effects highlight the urgency of transitioning to more sustainable consumption patterns. The Sharing Economy (SE) has emerged as a potential pathway to sustainable consumption in cities, allowing households to access products without making private purchases. However, the environmental sustainability of the SE remains uncertain, with the possibility of trade-offs such as an increased or displaced consumption rather than a reduction. Urban governance has been highlighted as crucial for supporting the transition towards sustainable consumption patterns and ensuring the sustainability benefits of the SE.

To support an evidence-based urban governance of the SE for sustainable consumption, this thesis aims to generate detailed knowledge about the consumption and sharing of durable household products. Taking Gothenburg, Sweden as a case, the study focuses on three main research objectives: quantifying behaviors and attitudes of the population regarding consumption and sharing; identifying consumption and sharing patterns from the product, demographic, and geographicperspectives; and assessing the potential contribution of sharing to sustainability from the user perspective. The objectives are addressed through a mixed-methods research design, involving collaboration with local government representatives, statistical and qualitative analysis of questionnaire survey data, and the application of an urban material flow accounting method.

The quantitative analysis reveals that a significant portion of respondents expressed interest in reducing their consumption, highlighting a general willingness to change consumption patterns. The results show varying levels of interest and participation in sharing activities, with mediated peer-to-peer forms showing lower engagement. The analysis also suggests that demographic factors such as gender, age, and education level significantly shape consumption and sharing. For specific product categories, patterns were identified where products such as clothes presented higher consumption but lower engagement in sharing, and vice versa for tools and leisure equipment. In the geographical analysis, the maximum consumption levels were seen for clothes (in units) and furniture and household equipment (in kg). The qualitative analysis supported positive perceptions of the SE, emphasizing circularity, resource conservation, and cost-saving benefits, but also highlighted challenges to overcome, such as practicality.

These results provide actionable insights for governing the SE while contributing to reducing the fragmentation in the literature regarding the sustainability value of the SE. Future research directions include refining consumption estimations per neighborhood, integrating the sharing dimension into geographical patterns, and developing a library of local sharing initiatives and potential impacts such as greenhouse gas emissions and material use. These efforts will further enhance the knowledge base for governing the SE toward sustainability.