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Gift giving and social emotions: experience as content

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article

<mark>Journal publication date</mark>05/2012
<mark>Journal</mark>Journal of Public Affairs
Issue number2
Number of pages8
Pages (from-to)154-161
Publication statusPublished
Original languageEnglish


The purpose of this paper is to employ an extended notion of gift giving by showing that much of the gifts exchanged in social media are driven by social emotions. We argue that consumers have migrated from the production of services to the production of experiences and that, in social media, the primary experience of value is emotion. Web 2.0 is markedly different compared with its predecessor Web 1.0, in that it empowered social media, the fastest growing phenomenon on the Internet to occur; yet people are struggling to make money from it. Much value is created and exchanged, but most of it escapes monetization. Whereas, consumption on Web 1.0 was mostly goal-oriented, rational, and functional, consumption on Web 2.0 is exploratory, idiosyncratic, and social. Traditional economic paradigms of market exchange have struggled to explain consumer behavior in this new dispensation: most exchange is ‘free’. So the question is, what is the currency and motivation driving social relations in Web 2.0? We argue that it is gifts and social emotions. We develop a circumplex of social emotions and show how different organizations utilize these emotions to archive their objectives. Implications for managers and researchers are discussed.