Agency, Identity and Materiality: the Storied Life of a Family and Their Table

We view consumer agency as improvisations and potentialities that come from the interplay of individual, relational and collective identities, material objects, other cultural resources, and situations in practice. Our paper is based on a two-year ethnographic case study we conducted that describes linkages between the biography of the Erikson family (a pseudonym) and the biography of their kitchen table. We uncover how contextual shifts and constellations of objects and spaces propel and alter the uses of the table, and how the table in turn alters key family identity practices. Our study illustrates “the positive blending of social and material relations” (Miller 2001, 115) that can occur at the intersection of object, personal and family biographies.


Amber M. Epp, Linda L. Price, and Eric J. Arnould (2009) ,"Agency, Identity and Materiality: the Storied Life of a Family and Their Table", in NA - Advances in Consumer Research Volume 36, eds. Ann L. McGill and Sharon Shavitt, Duluth, MN : Association for Consumer Research, Pages: 53-55.


Amber M. Epp, University of Wisconsin-Madison, USA
Linda L. Price, University of Arizona, USA
Eric J. Arnould, University of Wyoming, USA


NA - Advances in Consumer Research Volume 36 | 2009

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