Edited by Victoria Wells and Gordon Foxall
Chapter 2: People and Things
Russell Belk In Western languages we are taught that nouns consist of persons, places, and things. In the study of consumer behaviour we focus on the various ways in which these three types of nouns are related. Of the various combinations, we have been most apt to focus on people and the ways in which they regard and interact with various things. For example recent treatments have highlighted The Social Life of Things (Appadurai 1986b), The Sex of Things (de Grazia 1996), Wild Things (Attfield 2000), The Value of Things (Cummings and Lewandowska 2000), The Order of Things (Foucault 1970), A Sense of Things (Brown 2003), Living with Things (Gregson 2007), The Comfort of Things (D. Miller 2008), The Meaning of Things (Csikszentmihalyi and Rochberg-Halton 1981), History From Things (Lubar and Kingery 1995), and The Nature of Things (L. Watson 1990). In other vocabularies we have focused our attention on consumers and their “stuff” (e.g., Frost and Steketee 2010; Gosling 2008; D. Miller 2010), “objects” (e.g., Akhtar 2005; Forty 1986; Freund 1995; Kirkham 1996; Turkle 2007), “possessions” (e.g., Belk 1988; Dittmar 1992; Miller 2001a; Rudmin 1991), or “property” (e.g., Doyle 1999; Hann 1998; Verdery and Humphrey 2004). And at a somewhat more abstract level, we have studied commodification (e.g., Carrier 1995; Cook 2004; Ertman and Williams 2005; Radin 1996; Scheper-Hughes and Wacquant 2002), materialism (e.g., Belk 1985; Kasser 2002; Richins and Dawson 1992; Twitchell 1999; Wuthnow 1995), material culture (e.g., D. Miller 1998; Tilley et al. 2006), and consumer culture...
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