Materiality, Agency, and the Constitution of Consuming Subjects: Insights For Consumer Research

Janet Borgerson, University of Exeter
ABSTRACT - What do consumer researchers mean when they claim that consumer selves are Atransformed@, Acreated@, Aexpressed@, or Aemancipated@ in relation to objects and contexts in consumer culture? What are the relations between subjects and objects that are being proposed, called upon, or assumed in such consumer research? More specifically, what versions of materiality are consumer researchers using? Such questions highlight a concern with the ontological assumptions about subject identity, or self, and its relations to othersBand moreover, to consumption objects. Using anthropologist Daniel Miller’s theory of materiality as an illustrative example, this article demonstrates the importance of explicitly conceptualizing the consumer self’s formation, both generally and in relation to influential articulations in primarily interpretive consumer research. Miller’s theory of materiality, based as it is in theoretical reflections upon material practices drawn from extensive anthropological research (Miller 1987; 1994; 1998), presents compelling material for the study of consumer processes and practices. Miller’s prolific work in material culture and consumption studies includes an explicit theory of materiality that consumer research should no longer ignore.
[ to cite ]:
Janet Borgerson (2005) ,"Materiality, Agency, and the Constitution of Consuming Subjects: Insights For Consumer Research", in NA - Advances in Consumer Research Volume 32, eds. Geeta Menon and Akshay R. Rao, Duluth, MN : Association for Consumer Research, Pages: 439-443.