John L. Lastovicka & Karen V. Fernandez.
Explores “divestment rituals” and the process of handing over meaningful possessions to strangers.
“Symbolically divesting extensions of themselves”, the you, you no longer like or relate to.
A focus on divesting the “undesired self” through the vessel (commodity object) holding public and private meanings.
The concept of creating the “shared self” by selling or giving meaningful possessions to strangers.
We keep objects high in “emotional involvement” beyond their functional benefits.
Discusses Belk’s (1988) theory of the “extended self” whereby sacred items are not easy to get rid of because they are a part of us.
Young and Wallendorf – “experience the death of a piece of their lives with each possession lost”.
Divestment rituals that transfer private meanings i.e. cleaning, mending, making an object an heirloom. This reattaches public meanings.
Consumers may use garage sales, eBay, notices etc as ways to find appropriate heirs, who hopefully has a common identity to make letting go easier.
McCracken (1986) consumers disposing of items avoid contamination with new owners where there is no common identity. They have to mourn to loss of the object without knowing somebody else’s new private meanings.
Where a common identity is apparent a “shared self” emerges (Aron 1991) and helps facilitate the heir state of the vessel.
Consumers find ways to “cope with the strain of losing a valued extension of self”. Either disengagement with the vessel and the process of it going to new owners, or an attempt to find a new home for the vessel.
However the divestment goes, usually more important than the vessel is maintaining the personal meaning.
There also exists the “undesired self”/ “past-undesired self” or the “never me self”. Life transitions enable consumers to dispose of these objects that hold these negative private meanings on their way to a “more desired self”.
Lastovicka and Fernandez overall come to understand the journey of vessels:
Me+private meanings towards pubic meanings=not me and sometimes includes we.
Thoughts: Focuses heavily on the idea of garage sales. There are some nice case studies of people and their relationships with their objects and the consequential divestment.
PROMOTIONAL CULTURES & COMMUNICATION CENTRE
Faculty of Media & Communication, Bournemouth University