Borrowed practices : renew or hold : examining the potential for the spreading of libraries of things in Mexico City through social practice
Sammanfattning: Libraries of things, non-for-profit physical spaces where people borrow objects they would otherwise buy, have spread over Europe, the U.S., and Canada and have now emerged in Mexico City, where challenges to sustainability such as increased consumption levels and insufficient waste management abound. Collaborative economy initiatives like libraries of things are exposed as more sustainable alternatives to conventional patterns of satisfying human needs. Practices related to CE are not foreign to citizens in Mexico City as historical traditions of trade and barter and circulation of used objects have remained vibrant in convergence with monetization. Yet, the aforementioned practices have often been regarded as pertaining to lower class status. Nevertheless, collaborative economy platforms, while for-profit and often relying on digital technology, have recently begun to thrive in the city, becoming part of everyday practices in different strata of society and thus challenging culturally embedded notions of status. In this regard, research and discourse around transformative economies in the Global South is scarce, and in Mexico it is mainly focused on either the thriving for-profit platforms or the solidarity or social economy initiatives in response to pressing socio-economic justice concerns. This study provides an insight on the sector of the collaborative economy that is based on non-for-profit and face-to-face interactions. Three elements of social practice theory: material, skills & know-how and meaning, were used to preliminarily assess shaping factors in the spread of the practice of sharing objects in libraries of things in Mexico City. A localized overview of everyday practices and perceptions of libraries of things was obtained through interviews at a middle-class housing unit and supported by literature reviews and data collected with members of collaborative economy initiatives in the city. Results show that the practice of sharing objects is acknowledged and participation in physical platforms of the collaborative economy can potentially be embraced by members of different backgrounds within the socially heterogeneous middle-class sector in the city. However, the overall motivations to participate do not include elements sustainability or social justice. Nevertheless, classist prejudices of status and hygiene around used and recycled objects were found to be fading and actively transformed through trust in response to the economic crisis and greater presence of alternative ways of consumption. Barriers like mistrust in the government and lack of validation or support from the latter were identified along with needs to establish mechanisms for accountability and participation at community and citywide levels.
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