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The messy social lives of goods: Inter-personal borrowing and the ambiguity of possession and ownership.

Jenkins, R., Molesworth, M.R. and Scullion, R., 2014. The messy social lives of goods: Inter-personal borrowing and the ambiguity of possession and ownership. Journal of Consumer Behaviour, 13, 131-139.

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DOI: 10.1002/cb.1469


In this paper we position inter-personal borrowing as a form of non-market mediated access based consumption, a distinct form of exchange that is complex and inherently ambiguous, and a form of consumption that is under researched. We argue that the temporary transfer of possession is a defining feature of borrowing, which causes ambiguity to arise out of an object being simultaneously active in more than one network, such that it assembles multiple realities; a good can often be different things to different people at the same time. From our empirical data we establish three emergent themes within a narrative of borrowing. First we note that the boundaries of ownership and possession easily become blurred. Second, we find that borrowers make appropriation attempts, such that borrowed items may be temporarily treated as mundane objects, before being re-sacralised by the borrower and then re-appropriated by the lender. Finally, we acknowledge the vitality of borrowing and lending as part of social relationships, noting that ultimately relationships construct and are constructed by practices of borrowing (and lending). The unique characteristics of borrowing identified in our study offer an opportunity to better understand the ambiguity, or ‘messiness’, within an object’s social life that is not contained within existing work on the biography of goods.

Item Type:Article
Additional Information:Copyright © 2014 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd
Uncontrolled Keywords:Access; biography of goods; borrowing; ownership; possession; relationships;
Group:Faculty of Media & Communication
ID Code:30864
Deposited By: Symplectic RT2
Deposited On:15 Jun 2018 14:03
Last Modified:14 Mar 2022 14:11


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