Defense Date

2020

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science

Department

Sociology

First Advisor

Dr. Meredith A. Katz

Second Advisor

Dr. Gina M. Longo

Third Advisor

Dr. Katherine K. Chen

Abstract

Especially during times of economic and social upheaval, such as COVID-19, people may consider alternative means of acquiring the resources necessary for survival. These lifestyle shifts, or lifestyle movements, are often associated with economic alternatives to capitalism, such as gift economies. In recent years, many of these economies have shifted to digital platforms where members create and coordinate connections for exchanges. Using a case study of The Buy Nothing Project, an international network of local, digital gift economies, this paper explores the geographic and socioeconomic conditions facilitating the presence and activity of digital Buy Nothing Groups in two US states, Georgia and Massachusetts. By operating in a digital context using Facebook Groups, local Buy Nothing Groups have the potential to increase the accessibility of alternative consumption practices and provide an opportunity for redistribution of local resources. While previous research has examined participation in digital gift economies, none have investigated how geographic context and demographics might influence their membership. By comparing data from the American Community Survey and Buy Nothing Group boundaries and their relation to census block groups (populations of 600-3,000), this research enhances understandings of who can participate in local, digital gift economies based on their geographic location. It finds that as the number of Buy Nothing Groups in a state increases, block groups with access to Buy Nothing Groups are more likely to reflect the block group populations of the state as a whole. It also finds that higher levels of education and income in block groups are associated with the presence and activity of Buy Nothing Groups.

Rights

© The Author

Is Part Of

VCU University Archives

Is Part Of

VCU Theses and Dissertations

Date of Submission

12-1-2020

Available for download on Sunday, November 30, 2025

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