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19th European Roundtable on Sustainable Consumption and Production – Circular Europe for Sustainability: Design, Production and Consumption

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Foodsharing as Collective Action?

While the last years have seen an upsurge in empirical studies on sharing practices, these have largely focused on specific sectors such as car, accommodation, and tool sharing. Insights into the re-distribution and sharing of excess food – commonly subsumed under the term „food sharing“ – are still scarce. However, while food sharing initiatives may reflect traditional elements of sharing practices, they are also discussed as social movements or collective action in the context of which food consumption and production is politicized. The body of work in social psychology of collective action has uncovered several core motivations derived from theories of identity, efficacy, moral convictions, and ideology. This paper investigates the drivers for citizens’ decisions to participate in food sharing initiatives. An online survey was conducted with members of the foodsharing initiative in Germany, Austria, and Switzerland. A total of 320 members (78.1% female, M age = 32.96 years, SD age = 12.01) completed the online questionnaire. The great majority (54.1%) reported to actively share food in Germany, 28.8% shared food in Austria, 20.0% in Switzerland. About half of the participants reported to hold a university degree, around 43% were employed, and 18% acted as a so-called ambassador within the foodsharing community. A cluster analysis identified three groups of participants that differ according to socio-demographic characteristics, emotions related to foodsharing as well as roles held and time invested in the foodsharing initiative. Moreover, we discuss how the extended social identity model of collective action (SIMCA) may be used to explain collective action around food. To apply the SIMCA to the case of foodsharing, structural equation modeling was employed. According to the results, people engage in foodsharing, when (i) they believe that their participation is effective in reducing food waste and (i) they identify with the group mobilizing around food sharing. Furthermore, the current study support the results that social identity processes play an important role in the appraisal of negative emotions and efficacy beliefs.

Karin Schanes
Vienna University of Economics and Business; University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences

Karin Dobernig
Vienna University of Economics and Business; University of Applied Sciences Wiener Neustadt

Barbara Hartl
Vienna University of Economics and Business; Danube-University Krems


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