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24-25 августа 2005 г. в Университете Эссекса (Великобритания) проходит международная конференция, посвященная экономическим и социальным аспектам интернет-торговли.


Cultures of eBay: making sense of social and economic aspects of the eBay "phenomenon"

August 24th and 25th, 2005

University of Essex, Colchester, UK

Conference background

This is the first independent UK conference which aims to look at the cultural, social and economic aspects of eBay. In order to gauge the demand for this one-off conference, this e-mail asks for early expressions of interest to attend, as well as being a call for papers and posters. The idea for this conference originated from an ongoing ESRC project (RES-000-23-0433) at Chimera, a department of the University of Essex, which began in February 2004 and is due to end in January 2006. Results of this research project will be disseminated at the conference.

The overall aim of this conference is to bring together academics and practitioner groups from both business and the voluntary sector, to explore and "make sense" of the cultural, social and economic aspects of eBay, the Internet auction site, and consider its social and business implications.

This conference explores a phenomenally successful form of e-commerce, the Internet auction. Specifically, the conference will concentrate on one such Internet auction site, eBay - chosen for its market dominance. With 70% of all online auctions currently taking place through its site (Rowley, 2000), eBay represents ‘the world's largest personal online trading community’. Initially set up in 1995 with collectors in mind, eBay enabled easier access to collectibles (vid. Bunnel and Luecke, 2000) - where the traditional inefficiencies of person-to-person trading such as geographical fragmentation and imperfect knowledge (ibid.) could be offset through computer-mediated communication (CMC). Dubbed “the perfect store” (Cohen, 2002), its success has been phenomenal both in financial terms and in the number of users it has attracted. Indeed, eBay is fast becoming an e-commerce mainstay and household name with 125 million registered users worldwide (eBay, 2004), and it is now the UK’s number one e-commerce site (Nielsen Net Ratings, May 2003 cited eBay, 2004). Online auction sites have revolutionised the way we browse and shop for second-hand, antique and collectible items. However, they also provide new ways and new spaces to perform and display knowledges and ‘knowingness,’ particularly in relation to material culture.

eBay differs substantially from almost every other ‘virtual store’ or e-commerce site in carrying a stock of mostly second-hand items, which are described and loaded on to a database by thousands of individual sellers themselves. Accordingly, very contrasting consumer and collecting knowledges are brought to bear on such items than for mainstream new goods e-tailing. eBay is also a highly unusual site in the way that ‘communities’ are enabled and identities performed through the site’s own community spaces - mediated by material culture in buying, selling and browsing practices. Yet eBay remains largely unexplored by the academic literature beyond its reputation (feedback) system, particularly in terms of the key issues it raises around knowledge, identity, community and collecting practices in an e-society. This conference seeks to redress these gaps in the literature. But eBay also has considerable relevance for government and practitioner groups. The research will raise key issues for government and policy surrounding the potential for eBay to be a source of self-employment, particularly for ‘disadvantaged’ groups or those requiring flexible work, and increasingly important consumer issues such as the mis-selling of goods and the growing problem of fraudulent behaviour over the Internet. eBay additionally has significant implications for UK economic competitiveness in terms of the practices, structures and systems architecture of e-commerce, which include web site design and the distribution systems for both goods and money in an Internet era.