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Article

Exploring the Russian Online Gift-Exchange Communities: the Results of Nethnographic Approach

The Qualitative Report. 2015. Vol. 20. No. 12. P. 2041-2049.

This paper reports on 2 weeks nethnographic (online) observation of 4 online gift-exchange communities – virtual platforms, where participants conduct barter exchange of different daily objects such as books, children's products, furniture, home ware and others. These communities as case of informal economy initially do not have formal attributed rules. It is essential to find out 1) which rules and mechanisms exist in this type of economy; 2) what motivates people who are not acquainted with another to exchange gifts and 3) understand the way this communities exists.

The conclusion is drawn that social capital is the basic engine of investigated communities. The social capital accumulated by users increases the community commitment and cohesion by interpreting gifts as a set of resources to distribute fairly. The giving, the receiving and the exchanging are forms of communication that cause further communication and interworking outside of gift-giving situations. These gift-exchange communities are mainly based on the communication and consumption solidarity among individuals.