What are participants of cow sharing arrangements actually sharing? A property rights analysis on cow sharing arrangements in the European Alps

Katharina Gugerell, Marianne Penker, Pia Kieninger

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1 Citation (Scopus)


Sharing seems to experience a fashionable renaissance nowadays. It appears as though we are constantly involved in sharing activities in our daily physical and digital lives. Images, feelings or thoughts are shared on social media platforms; we share cars (e.g. Zipcar), bikes, homes and beds (e.g. Airbnb and Couchsurfing), money and other resources (e.g. Wemakeit and Kickstarter). These different practices, their impact and adjoining conceptual frameworks are controversially debated within the Smart City Debate and the Sharing Discourse (e.g. tourism phenomena related to Airbnb). ‘Sharing’ emphasizes the utilization of underused resources and the shift from owning things or goods to sharing them. So far, less attention has been paid to ‘new’ sharing models or approaches in rural contexts. In this article we take a first step by mapping and comparing ‘cow sharing’ arrangements within the European Alpine Region as one of such rural and digitally mediated formats of sharing practices. 60 cow sharing arrangements in five countries (Switzerland, Germany, Austria, France, Italy) are mapped and investigated through the lens of property rights (Schlager and Ostrom, 1992) and the sharing paradigm. Farmers’ main motivation to enter sharing arrangements are the direct marketing of high-quality products and the intensified social relations with tourists and consumers. The analysis of the cow sharing arrangements shows two different types: (i) ‘authorized users’ and (ii) ‘withdrawal-focused crowding arrangements’, that illustrate new farmer-consumer (share giver-share taker) relations which are mediated by digital platforms. They share different bundles of rights, mainly withdrawal (e.g. milk, cheese, meat) or access rights (e.g. cow visits, exploring Alpine pastures/farm), while share takers hold all management, exclusion and alienation rights while also bearing the major risks and obligations within the sharing arrangement.
Original languageEnglish
Article number104039
Number of pages13
JournalLand use policy
Issue numberSeptember
Early online date18 Jun 2019
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2019

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright: © 2019 Elsevier Ltd


  • land use
  • landscapes
  • sharing economy
  • sustainable consumption

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