The Changing Meaning of Ownership

Research output: ThesisDoctoral ThesisCollection of Articles


The rise of the sharing economy and access-based consumption has challenged traditional ownership-based forms of consumption. More and more consumers are favoring renting, sharing, and borrowing options over buying and owning, and this trend has been evident across product categories. While past research has identified drivers of this change – such as consumers' search for convenience, utility, sustainability, and variety – less is known about the relationship between access-based forms and traditional ownership-based forms of consumption. Furthermore, research lacks insights on whether access is indeed more convenient for consumers than ownership, and how the meaning of ownership is culturally constructed in today's liquid world. By drawing from Bardhi and Eckhardt's (2017) conceptualization of liquid (access-based) and solid (ownership-based) consumption as existing on a spectrum, this dissertation sheds light on the co-existence of liquid and solid consumption – in other words, how consumers form relationships with their solid and liquid possessions and move from one consumption form to the other. Furthermore, the dissertation draws attention to the solid end of the spectrum and illuminates the cultural construction of the value of solid possessions. The dissertation is rooted in the Consumer Culture Theory (CCT) tradition and consists of three interlinked essays. The first and third essay are comprised of a phenomenological inquiry, and the second essay is a literature review. The findings of the essays make several theoretical contributions to literature on access-based consumption, the co-existence of liquid and solid consumption, and the socio-cultural meaning of solid, ownership-based possessions.
Translated title of the contributionThe Changing Meaning of Ownership
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor's degree
Awarding Institution
  • Aalto University
  • Weijo, Henri, Supervising Professor
Print ISBNs978-952-64-1242-9
Electronic ISBNs978-952-64-1243-6
Publication statusPublished - 2023
MoE publication typeG5 Doctoral dissertation (article)


  • sharing economy
  • access-based consumption
  • consumer culture theory
  • CCT


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