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Motives for Sharing Non-Work Information and the Expectations of Reciprocity: The Case of Environmental Activists

Reijo Savolainen

(Submission #10)


Information sharing stands for a two-way activity in which information is given and received in the same context. The present study focuses on information sharing in non-work contexts; information sharing is primarily approached from the viewpoint of information giving. Contact networks drawing on social capital provide a general context for information sharing that may be based on the use of strong and weak ties as defined by Granovetter. The empirical study draws on interviews with twenty environmental activists in Finland, 2005. Three major motives for information sharing were identified: first, seredipitous altruism to provide help to other people, second, pursuit of the ends of seeking information by proxy, and third, duty-driven needs characteristic of persons elected to positions of trust. Since in most cases information sharing was driven by altruistic motives, the lack of reciprocity did not in practice weaken the motives for information sharing. However, in the case of sensitive information, information sharing tends to be restricted by calculations of the risk of information leakage against benefits obtained from the personally rewarding experience of giving important information to others.


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