Meaningful objects and consumption

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This chapter explores the ways in which practices of consumption are processes of making social and personal meanings. Building on theories of material culture, it highlights that these meanings arise from the co-agency of people and things. Rather than dismissing semiotic accounts as failing to attend to the materiality of goods, it draws from semiotic approaches (Keane 2005) that center the material possibilities of objects and the interrelationships and connections between different objects. The relationality of objects is developed through assemblage theories (Bennett 2009) to widen out the study of consumption beyond meaningful goods to see these in dynamic relation to objects that have implicit meanings and “meaningless” items such as everyday clutter.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationOxford Handbook of Consumption
Place of PublicationOxford
PublisherOxford University Press
Publication statusPublished - 11 Oct 2018


  • consumption
  • material culture
  • materiality
  • collections


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