P45
Second-hand and vintage as the circulation of material culture: ownership, power, morality

Convenors:
Mikela Lundahl (Social Sciences)
Anna Bohlin (University of Gothenburg)
Staffan Appelgren (University of Gothenburg)
Location:
Ăślikooli 18, 228
Session slots:
2

Short abstract:

This panel focuses on how everyday objects assume new lives in new consumption contexts through rebranding of "stuff" to retro or vintage, and explores theoretical conditions for circulation of material culture in relation to issues of ownership, morality, power and the formation of subjectivities.

Long abstract:

The current recycling trend - reusing of clothes, furniture, household goods or building material - captures several contemporary social dynamics. It can be read as linked to the interest in cultural heritage in late modernity: home- and lifestyle magazines feature advice about how to create authenticity and a connection with the past through decorating with memorabilia, unique finds from flea markets, or furniture with a history. It can also be understood as a critique against the current rate of consumption, seen as unsustainable, both in terms of how goods are produced, and their impact on the environment. However, the rebranding of old stuff into vintage enables a continuous consumption, but now under a banner of sustainability, uniqueness and quality. The circulation of goods can thus be read both as an effort to resist consumption, and simultaneously as an expansion of capitalism. Parallel to these changing contexts for used materiality, the idea of owning is undergoing a transformation. Rather than accumulating and collecting, many actors seek to minimize their ownership, not through downsizing but through securing access to goods in new ways: donating before buying, borrowing, renting, or co-owning. From having been a cornerstone of modern liberal democratic society, ownership has become problematic: costly and limiting; related to sedentarianism and unwieldy for late modern subjects engaging in rapidly shifting identity projects. This panel welcomes papers that explore theoretical or empirical dimensions of the circulation of material culture in relation to issues of ownership, morality, power and the formation of subjectivities.