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A prosumer is an individual who both consumes and produces. The term is a
portmanteau A portmanteau word, or portmanteau (, ) is a blend of wordsproducer'' and ''
consumer A consumer is a person or a group who intends to order, or uses purchased goods, products, or services primarily for personal, social, family, household and similar needs, who is not directly related to entrepreneurial or business activities. ...
''. Research has identified six types of prosumers: DIY prosumers, self-service prosumers, customizing prosumers, collaborative prosumers, monetised prosumers, and economic prosumers. The terms ''prosumer'' and ''prosumption'' were coined in 1980 by American futurist Alvin Toffler, and were widely used by many technology writers of the time. Technological breakthrough and a rise in user participation blurs the line between production and consumption activities, with the consumer becoming a prosumer.


Definitions and contexts

Prosumers have been defined as "individuals who consume and produce value, either for self-consumption or consumption by others, and can receive implicit or explicit incentives from organizations involved in the exchange." The term has since come to refer to a person using commons-based peer production. In the digital and online world, ”prosumer” is used to describe 21st-century online buyers because not only are they consumers of products, but they are able to produce their own products such as, customised handbags, jewellery with initials, jumpers with team logos etc. In the field of renewable energy, prosumers are households or organisations which at times produce surplus fuel or energy and feed it into a national (or local) distribution network; whilst at other times (when their fuel or energy requirements outstrip their own production of it) they consume that same fuel or energy from that grid. This is widely done by households by means of PV panels on their roofs generating electricity. Such households may additionally make use of battery storage to increase their share of self-consumed PV electricity, referred to as prosumage in the literature. It is also done by businesses which produce biogas and feed it into a gas network while using gas from the same network at other times or in other places. The European Union's Nobel Grid project, which is part of their Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme, uses the term in this way, for example. The sharing economy is another context where individuals can act as prosumers. For example, in the sharing economy, individuals can be providers (e.g.,
Airbnb Airbnb, Inc. ( ), based in San Francisco, California, operates an online marketplace focused on short-term homestays and experiences. The company acts as a broker and charges a commission from each booking. The company was founded in 2008 by ...
hosts,
Uber Uber Technologies, Inc. (Uber), based in San Francisco, provides mobility as a service, ride-hailing (allowing users to book a car and driver to transport them in a way similar to a taxi), food delivery (Uber Eats and Postmates), pac ...
drivers) and consumers (e.g., Airbnb guests, Uber passengers). Prosumers are one avenue to grow the sharing economy. Scholars have connected prosumer culture to the concept of McDonaldization, as advanced by sociologist George Ritzer. Referring to the business model of
McDonald's McDonald's Corporation is an American multinational fast food chain, founded in 1940 as a restaurant operated by Richard and Maurice McDonald, in San Bernardino, California, United States. They rechristened their business as a hamburg ...
, which has emphasized efficiency for management while getting customers to invest more effort and time themselves (such as by cleaning up after themselves in restaurants), McDonaldization gets prosumers to perform more work without paying them for their labor.


Origins and development

The blurring of the roles of consumers and producers has its origins in the cooperative
self-help Self-help or self-improvement is a self-guided improvement''APA Dictionary of Physicology'', 1st ed., Gary R. VandenBos, ed., Washington: American Psychological Association, 2007.—economically, intellectually, or emotionally—often with a subst ...
movements that sprang up during various economic crises, e.g. the
Great Depression The Great Depression (19291939) was an economic shock that impacted most countries across the world. It was a period of economic depression that became evident after a major fall in stock prices in the United States. The Financial contagion, ...
of the 1930s.
Marshall McLuhan Herbert Marshall McLuhan (July 21, 1911 – December 31, 1980) was a Canadian philosopher whose work is among the cornerstones of the study of media theory. He studied at the University of Manitoba and the University of Cambridge. He began h ...
and Barrington Nevitt suggested in their 1972 book ''Take Today'', (p. 4) that with electric technology, the consumer would become a producer. In the 1980 book, '' The Third Wave'', futurologist Alvin Toffler coined the term "prosumer" when he predicted that the role of producers and
consumer A consumer is a person or a group who intends to order, or uses purchased goods, products, or services primarily for personal, social, family, household and similar needs, who is not directly related to entrepreneurial or business activities. ...
s would begin to blur and merge (even though he described it in his book '' Future Shock'' from 1970). Toffler envisioned a highly saturated
marketplace A marketplace or market place is a location where people regularly gather for the purchase and sale of provisions, livestock, and other goods. In different parts of the world, a marketplace may be described as a '' souk'' (from the Arabic), ' ...
as
mass production Mass production, also known as flow production or continuous production, is the production of substantial amounts of standardized products in a constant flow, including and especially on assembly lines. Together with job production and bat ...
of standardized products began to satisfy basic consumer demands. To continue growing
profit Profit may refer to: Business and law * Profit (accounting), the difference between the purchase price and the costs of bringing to market * Profit (economics), normal profit and economic profit * Profit (real property) A profit (short for ...
, businesses would initiate a process of mass customization, that is the mass production of highly customized products. However, to reach a high degree of customization, consumers would have to take part in the production process especially in specifying
design A design is a plan or specification for the construction of an object or system or for the implementation of an activity or process or the result of that plan or specification in the form of a prototype, product, or process. The verb ''to design'' ...
requirements. In a sense, this is merely an extension or broadening of the kind of relationship that many affluent clients have had with professionals like
architect An architect is a person who plans, designs and oversees the construction of buildings. To practice architecture means to provide services in connection with the design of buildings and the space within the site surrounding the buildings that h ...
s for many decades. However, in many cases architectural clients are not the only or even primary end-consumers. Toffler has extended these and many other ideas well into the 21st-century. Along with more recently published works such as '' Revolutionary Wealth'' (2006), one can recognize and assess both the concept and fact of the ''prosumer'' as it is seen and felt on a worldwide scale. That these concepts are having global impact and reach, however, can be measured in part by noting in particular, Toffler's popularity in
China China, officially the People's Republic of China (PRC), is a country in East Asia. It is the world's List of countries and dependencies by population, most populous country, with a Population of China, population exceeding 1.4 billion, slig ...
. Discussing some of these issues with
Newt Gingrich Newton Leroy Gingrich (; né McPherson; born June 17, 1943) is an American politician and author who served as the 50th speaker of the United States House of Representatives from 1995 to 1999. A member of the Republican Party, he was the U. ...
on
C-SPAN Cable-Satellite Public Affairs Network (C-SPAN ) is an American cable and satellite television network that was created in 1979 by the cable television industry as a nonprofit public service. It televises many proceedings of the United State ...
's '' After Words'' program in June 2006, Toffler mentioned that ''The Third Wave'' is the second ranked bestseller of all time in China, just behind a work by
Mao Zedong Mao Zedong pronounced ; also romanised traditionally as Mao Tse-tung. (26 December 1893 – 9 September 1976), also known as Chairman Mao, was a Chinese communist revolutionary who was the founder of the People's Republic of China (P ...
.
Don Tapscott Don Tapscott (born June 1, 1947) is a Canadian business executive, author, consultant and speaker, who specializes in business strategy, organizational transformation and the role of technology in business and society. He is the CEO of the Tapsco ...
reintroduced the concept in his 1995 book ''The Digital Economy.'', and his 2006 book '' Wikinomics: How Mass Collaboration Changes Everything'' with Anthony D. Williams. George Ritzer and Nathan Jurgenson, in a widely cited article, claimed that prosumption had become a salient characteristic of
Web 2.0 Web 2.0 (also known as participative (or participatory) web and social web) refers to websites that emphasize user-generated content, ease of use, participatory culture and interoperability (i.e., compatibility with other products, systems, a ...
. Prosumers create value for companies without receiving wages. Toffler's Prosumption was well described and expanded in economic terms by Philip Kotler, who saw them as a new challenge for marketers. Kotler anticipated that people will also want to play larger role in designing certain goods and services they consume, furthermore modern computers will permit them to do it. He also described several forces that would lead to more prosumption like activities, and to more sustainable lifestyles, that topic was further developed by Tomasz Szymusiak in 2013 and 2015 in two marketing books.Szymusiak T., (2015). Prosumer – Prosumption – Prosumerism, OmniScriptum GmbH & Co. KG, Düsseldorf. Technological breakthrough has fastened the development of prosumption. With the help of additive manufacturing techniques, for example, co-creation takes place at different production stages: design, manufacturing and distribution stages. It also takes place between individual customers, leading to co-design communities. Similarly, mass customisation is often associated with the production of tailored goods or services on a large scale production. This increase in participation has flourished following the increasing popularity of
Web 2.0 Web 2.0 (also known as participative (or participatory) web and social web) refers to websites that emphasize user-generated content, ease of use, participatory culture and interoperability (i.e., compatibility with other products, systems, a ...
technologies, such as Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. In July 2020, an academic description reported on the nature and rise of the "robot prosumer", derived from modern-day technology and related participatory culture, that, in turn, was substantially predicted earlier by science fiction writers.


Criticism

Prosumer
capitalism Capitalism is an economic system based on the private ownership of the means of production and their operation for profit. Central characteristics of capitalism include capital accumulation, competitive markets, price system, private pr ...
has been criticized as promoting "new forms of exploitation through
unpaid work Unpaid labor or unpaid work is defined as labor or work that does not receive any direct remuneration. This is a form of non-market work which can fall into one of two categories: (1) unpaid work that is placed within the production boundary o ...
gamified as fun".


Examples

Identifiable trends and movements outside of the mainstream economy that have adopted prosumer terminology and techniques include: *a ''Do It Yourself'' (
DIY "Do it yourself" ("DIY") is the method of building, modifying, or repairing things by oneself without the direct aid of professionals or certified experts. Academic research has described DIY as behaviors where "individuals use raw and sem ...
) approach as a means of economic self-sufficiency or simply as a way to survive on diminished income *the
open source software Open-source software (OSS) is computer software that is released under a license in which the copyright holder grants users the rights to use, study, change, and distribute the software and its source code to anyone and for any purpose. O ...
movement creates software on their own, prime example is the successful
operating system An operating system (OS) is system software that manages computer hardware, software resources, and provides common services for computer programs. Time-sharing operating systems schedule tasks for efficient use of the system and may also ...
Linux Linux ( or ) is a family of open-source Unix-like operating systems based on the Linux kernel, an operating system kernel first released on September 17, 1991, by Linus Torvalds. Linux is typically packaged as a Linux distribution, whic ...
which now dominates the server domain * Fablab movement, self-fabrication capabilities especially
3d printing 3D printing or additive manufacturing is the construction of a three-dimensional object from a CAD model or a digital 3D model. It can be done in a variety of processes in which material is deposited, joined or solidified under computer ...
*the
voluntary simplicity Simple living refers to practices that promote simplicity in one's lifestyle. Common practices of simple living include reducing the number of possessions one owns, depending less on technology and services, and spending less money. Not only is ...
movement that seeks personal, social, and environmental goals through prosumer activities such as: **growing one's own food **repairing clothing and appliances rather than buying new items **playing musical instruments rather than listening to recorded music *use of new media-creation and distribution technologies to foster independent, open, non-profit, "consumer-to-consumer" media and cultures (see
Wikipedia Wikipedia is a Multilingualism, multilingual free online encyclopedia written and maintained by a community of online volunteering, volunteers, known as Wikipedians, through open collaboration and using a wiki-based editing system. Wikipedia ...
,
Indymedia The Independent Media Center, better known as Indymedia, is an open publishing network of activist journalist collectives that report on political and social issues. Following beginnings during the 1999 Carnival Against Capital and 1999 Seat ...
, most of
Creative Commons Creative Commons (CC) is an American non-profit organization and international network devoted to educational access and expanding the range of creative works available for others to build upon legally and to share. The organization has relea ...
); many involved in independent media reject mass culture generated by concentrated corporate media *self-sufficient
barter In trade, barter (derived from ''baretor'') is a system of exchange in which participants in a transaction directly exchange goods or services for other goods or services without using a medium of exchange, such as money. Economists dist ...
networks, notably in
developing nations A developing country is a sovereign state with a lesser developed industrial base and a lower Human Development Index (HDI) relative to other countries. However, this definition is not universally agreed upon. There is also no clear agree ...
, such as Argentina's RGT have adopted the term prosumer 4


See also

* Cost the limit of price * Creative consumer * Participatory culture * Power user * Produsage * Read/write culture


Notes


References

* Chen, Katherine K. (April 2012).
Artistic Prosumption: Cocreative Destruction at Burning Man
" ''American Behavioral Scientist'' Vol. 56, No. 4, 570-595. * Kotler, Philip. (1986). Prosumers: A New Type of Customer. Futurist(September–October), 24-28. * Kotler, Philip. (1986). The Prosumer Movement. A New Challenge for Marketers. Advances in Consumer Research, 13, 510-513. * Lui, K.M. and Chan, K.C.C. (2008) Software Development Rhythms: Harmonizing Agile Practices for Synergy, John Wiley and Sons, * Michel, Stefan. (1997). Prosuming-Marketing. Konzeption und Anwendung. Bern; Stuttgart;Wien: Haupt. * Nakajima, Seio. (April 2012).
Prosumption in Art
" ''American Behavioral Scientist'' Vol. 56, No. 4, 550–569. * Ritzer, G. & Jurgenson, N., 2010. Production, Consumption, Prosumption. Journal of Consumer Culture, 10 (1), pp. 13 –36. * Toffler, Alvin. (1980). The third wave: The classic study of tomorrow. New York, NY: Bantam. * Xie, Chunyan, & Bagozzi, Richard P. (2008). Trying to Prosume: Toward a Theory of Consumers as Co-Creators of Value. Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science, 36 (1), 109-122. * Szymusiak T., (2013). Social and economic benefits of Prosumption and Lead User Phenomenon in Germany - Lessons for Poland n:Sustainability Innovation, Research Commercialization and Sustainability Marketing, Sustainability Solutions, München. * Szymusiak T., (2015). Prosumer – Prosumption – Prosumerism, OmniScriptum GmbH & Co. KG, Düsseldorf.


External links

{{wiktionary
Turns of Phrase: Prosumer
- business-oriented definitions of producer/professional and consumer Market (economics) Consumer behaviour 1980 neologisms