Hosting Together via Couchsurfing: Privacy Management in the Context of Network Hospitality
Practicing network hospitality—that is, taking part in the processes wherein users of hospitality exchange services, connect, and interact with one another online and off-line—is commonly approached as a dyadic interaction between a host and a guest. In contrast, this article elaborates on communication privacy management theory in the context of network hospitality based on an interview study of how multiperson households regulate access to their domestic sphere as they welcome visitors via Couchsurfing, an online hospitality exchange service. The findings depict how multiperson households (1) establish privacy rules related to hosting, (2) cooperate to control interior and exterior privacy boundaries, and (3) manage privacy with the help of physical and temporal boundaries. The study contributes to communication privacy management theory by applying it to the study of network hospitality and providing insight into how privacy management unfolds as a cooperative process within multiperson households in settings where networked media are used to arrange social encounters that raise questions of physical space and territoriality.