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Well-being rather than well-having: a critical analysis of sharing economy discourses in the Chinese context

Widrat, Alexandra LU (2017) In Master Thesis Series in Environmental Studies and Sustainability Science MESM02 20171
LUCSUS (Lund University Centre for Sustainability Studies)
Abstract
The sharing economy, which is an Internet-mediated economic model based on sharing practices, presents the potential to reshape nature-society interactions with relevance for leading to transformative change for environmental and social aspects of sustainability. It is widely presented as
a model leading to environmentally sustainable pathways through reduced resource use and reduced levels of consumption and an increased use of idle assets, while also promoting social sustainability through rebuilding social relationships and enabling wider and more equitable access to resources.
Given its recent emergence, the sharing economy concept is actively being debated, shaped and framed by a wide array of social actors. These discursive... (More)
The sharing economy, which is an Internet-mediated economic model based on sharing practices, presents the potential to reshape nature-society interactions with relevance for leading to transformative change for environmental and social aspects of sustainability. It is widely presented as
a model leading to environmentally sustainable pathways through reduced resource use and reduced levels of consumption and an increased use of idle assets, while also promoting social sustainability through rebuilding social relationships and enabling wider and more equitable access to resources.
Given its recent emergence, the sharing economy concept is actively being debated, shaped and framed by a wide array of social actors. These discursive constructions have implications for the wider social practices of the sharing economy.

Through firstly conducting a literature review, current understandings of the sharing economy are presented and their relevance for the Chinese context outlined. Further, a critical discourse analysis following Fairclough’s methodology is carried out in order to analyse the dialectical relations
between discourse and wider social and economic developments and processes of change. In particular, I analyse how the sharing economy is discursively constructed in the Chinese context by the political, corporate, academic and public discourse fields and how these discursive constructions are redefining the Chinese economic growth discourse.
The findings of my analysis of the political discourse on the sharing economy in the Chinese context suggest that discursive constructions of the sharing economy do not contribute to the transformative potential the sharing economy presents for environmental and social aspects of sustainability, but instead are utilized to advance and uphold the reformist sustainable development construct of ecological civilisation to guide China’s future green development path. The findings of my analysis of the corporate, academic and public discourses on the sharing economy in the Chinese context indicate that this discursive framing is not being challenged, but maintained by the analysed corporate discourse and only partly challenged by the analysed academic discourse. The analysed public discourse on the sharing economy in the Chinese context is shown to more challenge the discursive framing of the sharing economy as a supportive function of the Chinese ecological
civilisation construct than to reproduce it.

These findings showcase the importance of fostering critical language awareness, which can help in identifying constraining forces on discursive constructions that work to avert transformative changes for sustainability. Critical language awareness can thus enable us to become aware of how discursive constructions shape approaches to sustainability challenges. (Less)
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author
Widrat, Alexandra LU
supervisor
organization
course
MESM02 20171
year
type
H2 - Master's Degree (Two Years)
subject
keywords
ecological civilisation, critical discourse analysis, sharing economy, China, sustainability science
publication/series
Master Thesis Series in Environmental Studies and Sustainability Science
report number
2017:040
language
English
id
8915345
date added to LUP
2017-06-19 17:34:46
date last changed
2017-06-19 17:34:46
@misc{8915345,
  abstract     = {The sharing economy, which is an Internet-mediated economic model based on sharing practices, presents the potential to reshape nature-society interactions with relevance for leading to transformative change for environmental and social aspects of sustainability. It is widely presented as
a model leading to environmentally sustainable pathways through reduced resource use and reduced levels of consumption and an increased use of idle assets, while also promoting social sustainability through rebuilding social relationships and enabling wider and more equitable access to resources.
Given its recent emergence, the sharing economy concept is actively being debated, shaped and framed by a wide array of social actors. These discursive constructions have implications for the wider social practices of the sharing economy.

Through firstly conducting a literature review, current understandings of the sharing economy are presented and their relevance for the Chinese context outlined. Further, a critical discourse analysis following Fairclough’s methodology is carried out in order to analyse the dialectical relations
between discourse and wider social and economic developments and processes of change. In particular, I analyse how the sharing economy is discursively constructed in the Chinese context by the political, corporate, academic and public discourse fields and how these discursive constructions are redefining the Chinese economic growth discourse. 
The findings of my analysis of the political discourse on the sharing economy in the Chinese context suggest that discursive constructions of the sharing economy do not contribute to the transformative potential the sharing economy presents for environmental and social aspects of sustainability, but instead are utilized to advance and uphold the reformist sustainable development construct of ecological civilisation to guide China’s future green development path. The findings of my analysis of the corporate, academic and public discourses on the sharing economy in the Chinese context indicate that this discursive framing is not being challenged, but maintained by the analysed corporate discourse and only partly challenged by the analysed academic discourse. The analysed public discourse on the sharing economy in the Chinese context is shown to more challenge the discursive framing of the sharing economy as a supportive function of the Chinese ecological
civilisation construct than to reproduce it.

These findings showcase the importance of fostering critical language awareness, which can help in identifying constraining forces on discursive constructions that work to avert transformative changes for sustainability. Critical language awareness can thus enable us to become aware of how discursive constructions shape approaches to sustainability challenges.},
  author       = {Widrat, Alexandra},
  keyword      = {ecological civilisation,critical discourse analysis,sharing economy,China,sustainability science},
  language     = {eng},
  note         = {Student Paper},
  series       = {Master Thesis Series in Environmental Studies and Sustainability Science},
  title        = {Well-being rather than well-having: a critical analysis of sharing economy discourses in the Chinese context},
  year         = {2017},
}