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Consumption narratives of extended possessions and the extended self

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This paper investigates the nature of the boundaries between the extended self and possessions (including potentially extended possessions) in the context of gift giving for Hong Kong Chinese consumers. Our findings showed that informants narrated stories not only about the gifts that they themselves had received as being their important possessions and thus constituting part of their extended self, but they also described objects that they had given as gifts to close others as part of their own possessions. These extended possessions potentially constituted part of their own extended selves. In addition, by the virtue of their material presence, these extended possessions acted as continuous reminders of these extended selves. The extended possessions hence provided the informants with an anchoring point to increase the relatively stability of their relationships with others, thereby countering the labile nature of ever-changing identity narratives. This paper contributes to current debates concerning the relationships between the self, possessions, and gift giving providing a richer explanation and extending previous work on possessions and the extended self.

Keywords: Chinese; gift giving; narrative analysis; possessions; self-concept

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: the Hong Kong Polytechnic University (SPEED), Hong Kong 2: Lancaster University, UK 3: the Foundation for Management Education, UK

Publication date: July 1, 2012

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