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Redistributed consumer desire in digital virtual worlds of consumption

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The aim of this paper is to discuss and illustrate how the use of software available in digital virtual worlds of consumption, including wish lists, watch lists, and digital virtual goods (DVGs), interact with consumer desiring practices. We draw on a data set of three interpretative studies with technology users living in the South of England. Our study makes a unique contribution to our understanding of consumer desire and digital virtual consumption by bringing to the fore the often-neglected role of non-human agents in the practice of consumer desire. In particular, it shows (1) the assemblage of consumer desire in human–non-human hybrids (composed of consumers and online wish lists, online auction tools, and video-game resources; (2) the redistribution of competence and skills in human–software hybrids; (3) the r-distribution of affect and commitment in human–software hybrids; and (4) the refocusing of desire in human–software hybrids. Based on our findings, we conclude that, over time, the use of software in the construction and actualisation of desire reconfigures consumer desire practices into a goal-orientated task, where the focus is not daydreaming activity or material commodities per se but rather the software itself. Here, the software not only presents things to be desired, but also absorbs some of the skill and competence needed to conjure up desire. Ultimately, these configurations appear to create breaks in the experience of desire that weaken the hold previously binding consumers to objects of desire.
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Keywords: consumer desire; digital virtual consumption; eBay; human–nonhuman hybrids; video games; wish lists

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Bournemouth University, UK

Publication date: 01 October 2013

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