Mutuality: critique and substitute for Belk’s “sharing,”

Eric Arnould, RandallAlexander Rose

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review


The recently introduced construct of consumer sharing is represented as a nonreciprocal, prosocial
distribution of resources given without expectation of reciprocity (Belk, 2010, ‘Sharing’,
Journal of Consumer Research 36: 715–34). The approach adopted rests on shaky ontological and
epistemological grounds and reproduces an array of problematic modernist dichotomies (e.g.,
agency/structure, nurturing family/instrumental public, gift/market, and altruism/self-interest) that
significantly constrain the analytical enterprise. This work redresses some of the conceptual
problems in the current formulation. The critique highlights a focus on resource distribution based
on a more holistic, socially grounded perspective on circulation. We offer the alternative concept
of mutuality or generalized exchange and the metaphor of inclusion rather than exchange as
central to this perspective. We argue this may provide a more sound basis for understanding
alternative modes of circulation.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)75-99
Number of pages24
JournalMarketing Theory
Issue number1
Early online date2 Mar 2015
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2016
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • mutuality
  • sharing
  • anti-utilitarianism
  • Mauss
  • gift-giving
  • generalized exchange
  • resource circulation

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Mutuality: critique and substitute for Belk’s “sharing,”'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this