With Steven Shepherd. Conditionally accepted at Journal of Consumer Affairs.

Many have noted racial disparities in how different peer-to-peer (p2p) activities are treated. Drawing from a range of literatures (institutional theory, stereotyping, and whiteness theory), the current research finds that the exact same p2p activity is perceived differently based on whether or not its actors are White or Black. P2p activities were rated more negatively and lower in normative legitimacy when their actors are perceived to be Black as opposed to White. Local acceptance and regulative legitimacy increased ratings of normative legitimacy for p2p activities in a Black community, but did not erase the gap between White and Black p2p activities. “Sharing economy” and “side hustle” – popular terms for p2p activities – also had associations with race, and therefore differed in normative legitimacy and behavioral intentions. Text analysis of newspaper articles provided further evidence for our hypotheses. Implications of racial bias in the legitimation of p2p activities are discussed.

Photo by Dan Gold.

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