Adolescence, the golden age of the sharing economy?


Coworking, coworking, participatory housing, carpooling, community gardens … Collaboration is in harmony with the times. According to a survey of 1,000 or more French people over the age of 18 by Odoxa on AlloVoisins, two in three French people are already experiencing a joint economy and 65% use it. The objects are ready to be exchanged.

A lifestyle prepared through specific adolescent practices? At this time of life, especially between girls, exchanging clothes between friends is important and very frequent: jackets shared by two friends, each other by mail to maintain ties between girlfriends during the summer vacation. Tank tops sent to … More than 50% of girls of this age regularly exchange tops with their girlfriends (20% for boys) and 56% regularly fashion accessories (scarves, gloves, etc.) I’m changing hats, etc. (for 20% of boys). This phenomenon disappears at the end of adolescence.

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The fact that these practices are more systematic among girls than boys is explained by the fact that friendship is based on competition or gain of power between boys, but rather on exchanges and discussions on the part of girls. can. In addition to this, there is a desire to please in the importance of appearance and in building their identity.


Market learning

Many teenage girls participate in “free Troc parties”. Are they trying to get out of the economical game to learn a new mode of exchange (they will return to it later)? Or do these exchanges tell us more about the socialization of this era than their relationship with the market? What are the rules governing the exchange of these garments? Also, what is the motivation for adolescent girls to engage in such exchange practices?

To answer these questions, a qualitative study combining observations and interviews was conducted on about 20 adolescent girls between the ages of 14 and 18.

Adolescent girls can first think of exchanging clothes with their girlfriend for financial reasons. That is, she gets another outfit for free or at a low cost. This motive is certainly indisputable, but it is far from exhausting the subject. Another fairly iconic motivation lies at the root of the exchange of these garments that can meet the need for integration into the group.

Over 50% of teenage girls regularly exchange crop tops with their girlfriends.

The form of clothing exchange depends on your proximity, such as school friends, best friends, or “good friends.” All regardless of whether you are in college or high school (during holidays, during classes, lunch breaks, college / high school access) or at home (generally a teenager’s room and / or the girlfriend in question) The place is open for exchange).

Occasionally, I rent and lend clothes to my classmates according to the exact rules. Teens reinvent another market other than money within the school framework. There you will learn to apply the rules established by the institution. It has been fixed from the beginning between two girlfriends …

“We exchange sweatshirts with classmates, but I never rent them out in return. It’s a give and take and sets the rules for the game,” Pauline, 15,. The system has invaded. Exchanges with classmates are like more economical exchanges, equivalence is the engine of economic exchanges, and transactions are supportive. It’s a kind of market apprenticeship. We are in the field of accounting with a value system that is a countervalue of a different nature than the currency system. Relationships within a market exchange do not require intimacy or personal connection between individuals to maintain themselves.

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Teenage girls can also exchange clothes with “good friends” (neighbors, extracurricular friends). As 14-year-old Morgan says, the rules are more flexible. We live next door so it’s easy to pick up mine. If she has what I want to wear, I can pick her up in 5 minutes. No exchange period has been set. It’s flexible. »»

Relationship sign

When it comes to “best friends,” we talk about sharing, but no longer talking about exchanges. In the field of clothing, these intimate relationships are achieved by sharing the space of “sharing” in the sense of Berg, like the dressing room. We have never had a complex, we go in, go out and try together. When we sleep with each other, we prepare together in the same bathroom and give advice to each other before going out, Chloé, 16 years old.

Clothing changes can meet the need for integration into groups.

“Clothes for two” is another manifestation of this fusion logic. This fusion can extend to the (confused) fusion of the body, erasing the very notion of property that “we buy and share a jacket for two”, the 17-year-old said. Corentine says. With her best friend, the teenage girl is ready to share everything unconditionally, including swimwear.

Best friends act like family representatives. Julie, 16, explains how to share a T-shirt with her best friend during the summer vacation. She said, “I bought a T-shirt to mail during the summer vacation and shared it to maintain society. Despite the physical distance, the bond between us.” On the other hand, if the economic exchange is based on the transfer of personal property (“My thing will be yours”), the sharing is a common property (“The shared object is ours and I”. It’s not yours or yours. “).

Contrary to prejudice, adolescents are not as materialistic as they might think. Exchange, rent, borrow and share. Exchange is not a way to deny the market, but a way to invent another form of more collaborative and intimate link with a group of friends.

These exchanges take place directly between adolescent consumers, allowing them to escape the traditional market. This “mediation” has a great influence on the “business model” of the seller. Recognizing the significant increase in consumer exchanges, companies targeting young people are trying to better understand this phenomenon and collaborative consumption of these through an online clothing exchange platform. We are beginning to integrate practices into their activities.