Three paths to disposition: The movement of meaningful possessions to strangers

Lastovicka and Fernandez’s 2005 paper examines the process of divesting meaningful goods to strangers. Much notable literature focus on goods’ significance to an individuals’ identity, most prominently Belk’s extended self theory. Further literature especially McCracken (1986) has identified the significance of the movement of goods as a mode of transferring meaning and Young & Wallendorf (1989) define divestment in two senses, emotional detachment and physical detachment and Belk (1997) also examines divestment in terms of zones (me vs not-me)

When is something mine?

Today, some ECCG members and I were problematising and questioning ownership and possession.  These are some of my own reflections based on that discussion. Others participating in that discussion, may have other views that would be interesting to read alongside these. In a world where the material seems to evaporate amidst a growing selection of digital virtual goods (Denegri-Knott and Molesworth, 2010), where we can rent out dresses, buy and dispose of items that are gently worn, time-share hand bags, share our everydayness with others, sharing our time and stuff with in groups and out groups (Belk, 2010); rent out space to hoard or store owned goods which we have but, can’t store ourselves, its seems timely to question and document the various ways possession and ownership are experienced. At a more abstract level of theorisation, these are also emerging aspects of consumer culture which test to a degree what we have come to understand as the various process through which we stamp our ownership on goods. McCracken covers this in his MTM, Kopytoff and Appadurai write about singularisation and appropriation, Rochberg-Halton about cultivation, Slater, Miller and others about de-commodification, Belk about sacralisation.


Faculty of Media & Communication, Bournemouth University