Shifting away from ownership towards access-based consumption, innovative new business models known as product-service systems (PSS) are advocated as part of a more circular, resource efficient economy. With product ownership (and responsibility for repair) remaining with providers, pay-per-use services are promoted as one such model, which can both increase product longevity and reduce the ‘burdens of ownership’ on consumers. However, PSS also require public acceptance of access-based consumption, including the long-term use of non-owned products and a range of accompanying contractual obligations. We conducted a series of deliberative workshops with the public, aiming to explore the concept of pay-per-use PSS and the role that concerns about ownership and responsibility may have in determining public acceptance. Rather than focusing on innate desires for product ownership, we found that participants’ concerns regarding pay-per-use PSS were usually related to wider fears surrounding the risks and responsibilities of entering into contract-based service agreements. Identifying four public narratives of service provision (Ownership and convenience
; Risk and responsibility
; Affordability and security
; Care and control
), we argue that successful introduction of PSS will only be possible if careful consideration is given to deeply held values pertaining to ownership, responsibility and trust that influence such cultural understandings.
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