Hosting the comfortably exotic: Cosmopolitan aspirations in the sharing economy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This article draws on interviews with 43 Airbnb hosts in Greater Boston to analyze how this novel economic arrangement brings people together across difference. The first central finding is that a majority of the participants express a keen interest in engaging with the Other, by hosting guests of foreign nationalities and cultures, but they also filter for familiar characteristics. This paradox is conceptualized as a preference for the ‘comfortably exotic’ – hosts want difference, but not too much of it. The second central finding is that guest–host interactions generate cosmopolitan capital, i.e., particular forms of social and cultural capital, which suggests that exclusion from the home-sharing economy has opportunity costs on not just economic dimensions, but also on cultural and social dimensions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)381-400
Number of pages20
JournalSociological Review
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • Casual sociability
  • Contact hypothesis
  • Cosmopolitan capital
  • Cosmopolitanism
  • Cultural capital
  • Sharing economy
  • Social capital

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science


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