Airbnb as an ephemeral space: Towards an analysis of a digital heterotopia

Elham  Bahmanteymouri, Farzaneh Haghighi.

In S. Ferdinand, I. Souch, D. Wesselman (Eds.) Heterotopia and globalisation in the twenty-first century. London, UK: Routledge. Related URL.


Abstract of the book chapter:

This chapter explores Airbnb as a case of a digital manifestation of heterotopia. Airbnb emerged as a sharing economy platform in response to the financial crisis of 2007-8, expanding through digital technologies. This chapter problematises Airbnb as an economic solution by situating the formation of Airbnb within the neoliberal discourse of the sharing economy. In light of the Foucauldian interpretation of heterotopia and through a Lefebvrian political-economic lens, Airbnb is theorised as an ephemeral space that is directly lived, occupied, and transformed by inhabiting it, and which simultaneously offers a temporary, dynamic, and collaborative culture that challenges permanent and dominant norms and relations. Once imagined as a different space, the heterotopic implications of Airbnb will be flattened when the social and economic relationships facilitated through information technology disappear. Therefore, we argue that although Airbnb manifests a novel form of heterotopic space by challenging the norms – such as local tax systems or the role of local government in the rental housing market – it provides ephemeral spatial opportunities for the metamorphosis of capitalism.