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Sharing (social behavior)

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File:Viola and Mina share food.jpg

Sharing is a prosocial behavior and is the joint use of a resource or space. In its narrow sense, it refers to joint or alternating use of an inherently finite good, such as a common pasture or a shared residence. It is also the process of dividing and distributing. Apart from obvious instances, which we can observe in human activity, we can also find many examples of this happening naturally in nature. When an organism takes in nutrition or oxygen for instance, its internal organs are designed to divide and distribute the energy taken in, to supply parts of its body that need it. Flowers divide and distribute their seeds. In a broader sense, it can also include the free granting of use rights to a good that is capable of being treated as a nonrival good, such as information. Still more loosely, “sharing” can actually mean giving something as an outright gift: for example, to “share” one's food really means to give some of it as a gift.

Sharing in the marketplace

Sharing disjoints the connection between usage and ownership of a product. Products are often sold because a buyer intends to use the product or the buyer intends to sell it to someone who will use it, thus sharing a product may reduce the product's demand by reducing the number of people who intend to acquire it in order to use it. Though sharing is touted as an economical and environmental aid to the public(carpooling, shared apartments, etc.), some businesses perceive it as a threat because of its assumed effect on their profitability. This has resulted in protection laws(like copyright provisions such as denying owners the right to perform or display the work publicly) to curb sharing. The effect on profitability is difficult if not impossible to assess because it relies on making sweeping assumptions about public behavior including individual decision making differences, buyers only convinced to buy after using a friend's product, and the effect on the sales of compliment products.

Sharing figures prominently in gift economies, but also can play a significant role in market economies, for example in car sharing. Share housing is a common and informally negotiated example of sharing of householders' labour, (for example, in the form of housework) and communal household goods.


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