Couchsurfing In North Texas: A Localized View Of A Global Phenomenon
Bradbury, Rory L.
MetadataShow full item record
The purpose of this study was to conduct an exploratory research project to discover issues and problems faced by people who are a part of Hospitality Exchange Networks. This research focuses on the largest free travel based network, CouchSurfing.org, which currently has over 5 million members. Mixed methods were used to gather the data. The main source of data was taken qualitatively when the researcher conducted nineteen in-depth interviews with couchsurfers who had varying degrees of experience in this community. Ethnographic techniques were also used during field work, which included "surfing" five times and going to numerous local couchsurfing events in the North Texas area. There was extensive use of content analysis by examining the design, structure, and content of the CouchSurfing.org website. In addition, quantitative data was obtained through the use of a survey given to each respondent.The central theme this study focuses on is the problem of <italic>participation</italic>. I learned that while most couchsurfers hold similar beliefs and lifestyles, there is a large amount of variation in how people choose to participate in this community. Couchsurfing relies on its members to be able to host and surf in order to balance out needs and demands of the network, yet I discovered it is more common for someone to choose one of these roles over the other. Personal choice of participation was found to be not only about individual motivations and wants, but also issues such as trust, comfort, privacy, danger and safety. All of these issues act as barriers which can limit a person's choices in participating in couchsurfing. Each of these barriers is grounded in larger sociological forces that impact not only couchsurfers in various ways, but non-couchsurfing outsiders as well.