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Me, My Thunderbird and the others

Organisation Studies

Speaker:Hans Kjellberg, Stockholm School of Economics
Date: Tuesday 26 November 2013
Time: 4.00 pm
Location: Bateman lecture Theatre, Building One, Streatham Campus

Further details

What kind of sociality springs from the acquisition of goods? In this essay, I use an auto-ethnographic account of my purchase of a classic American car – a 1963 Ford Thunderbird Sports Roadster – to explore social consequences that follow from the acquisition of goods. Adopting a performative stance with respect to the social – society is what is held together (Latour 1986) – I study the interactive forging of associations between entities triggered by possessive relations. In short, I seek to trace the ‘things you do because you own X’. This allows me to identify several situations (well described in classic sociology) in which possessions become vehicles for socialisation, such as when they lead you to acquaint new friends, give you esteem, status, etc. But my approach also highlights a number of effects of possession that do not seem to imply anything social at all, at least at first glance. These associations, which may come across as asocial, are the various attachments to other entities that are triggered or altered by possessive relations. These observations lead me to suggest that market exchanges are important not only for our sense of self, via various identity projects, but also for the kinds of societies we are performing.
Hans Kjellberg (associate professor, Stockholm School of Economics)
My background is in marketing (widely defined) and my main research interest economic ordering, particularly the organizing of markets. Over the past decade, I have contributed to establish market studies as an interdisciplinary field of inquiry and sought to develop a practice approach to markets. Currently, I am engaging in a new collaborative, interdisciplinary project on the digitalization of consumer culture.