ESA Consumption Research Network Midterm Conference 2016

Stefan Wahlen (Speaker)

Activity: Participating in or organising an eventParticipation in or organising a conferenceOther


Sharing economies and collaborative consumption can be considered lifestyle movements, with private action and participation aiming at social change. Enhanced by new network technologies, instances of sharing have spread along with the conviction that sharing addresses societal and environmental challenges. Food sharing is a particular example of a collaborative consumption movement. The food sharing movement aims to counteract food squandering and to reduce food waste. This research examines a German context where consumers can either make superfluous food available for pick up on an online platform or bring their surplus food to publicly accessible cupboards or refrigerators, so-called share points. Around 300 of these share points exist in Germany, of which 25 are located in Berlin. In early 2016, municipal food authorities in Berlin published novel food safety requirements that would not allow publicly available food in share points. This decision resulted in conflict between the food movement and the government. In the light of these incidents, this paper investigates the positioning of food sharing as a non-conformist consumption activity in contestation. Particular interest lies in the accounts of politicisation and mobilisation of consumer practices that resist public authorities. Empirically I investigate discursive struggles in newspapers articles related to the introduction of new food safety requirements. The contribution of this paper lies in disentangling the position of sharing in collaborative consumption. Moreover, it assists in understanding the positioning of food sharing and food safety in the politics of food waste.
Period8 Sep 2016
Event typeConference
LocationBologna, Italy


  • food consumption
  • sharing economy
  • collaborative lifestyle
  • social movements