Towards an object-relations theory of consumerism: The aesthetics of desire and the unfolding materiality of social life
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This paper addresses some fundamental questions in the field of consumption studies through an exploration of literatures within object-relations psychoanalytic theory. It takes materiality as its central concern, dealing especially with questions of actor- commodity relations. In particular the paper uses the conceptual apparatus of the object-relations approach to propose a new way for theorizing aspects of consumption practice relating to person-object relationships. After situating the discussion within contemporary debates in consumption studies, the paper uses DWWinnicott's work as a point from which to integrate broader literatures on aesthetic experience and subject- object relations. The paper draws out the cultural implications and affinities of Winnicott's model and argues that his approach usefully suggests pathways for developing a model of consumption which neither reduces person-object exchanges to the psyche, assemblages of practices, or to the dead hand of social-structural forces. Rather, it is argued that Winnicott's model is suggestive of the more widespread and powerful cultural implications arising from relations between actors and objects of consumption.
Journal of Consumer Culture
Copyright 2011 SAGE Publications. This is the author-manuscript version of the paper. Reproduced in accordance with the copyright policy of the publisher. Please refer to the journal's website for access to the definitive, published version.