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Sharing is central to how we live today: it is what we do online; it is a model of economic behavior; and it is also a type of therapeutic talk. Sharing always comes with a warm glow around it, embodying positive values such as empathy, communication, fairness, openness and equality. The Age of Sharing shows how and when sharing became caring, and explains how its meanings have changed in the digital age.
Sharing, though, is also a word used to camouflage commercial or even exploitive relations, leading many to bemoan that ‘It isn’t really sharing’. Websites say they share data with advertisers, though actually they sell it, while parts of the sharing economy look much like rental services. But The Age of Sharing ultimately argues that practices described as sharing and critiques of those practices have common roots. Consequently, the powerful metaphor of sharing now constructs significant swathes of our social practices and provides the grounds for critiquing them; it is a mode of participation in the capitalist order and a way of resisting it.
Taking in nineteenth century literature, Alcoholics Anonymous, the American counterculture, reality TV, hackers, Airbnb, Facebook and more, The Age of Sharing offers a rich account of a complex contemporary keyword.
The Age of Sharing will appeal to students and scholars of the Internet, digital culture, and linguistics.