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Dusting Down Second Hand Rose: gendered identities and the world of second-hand goods in the space of the car boot sale

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This is concerned with the connections between second-hand exchange and consumption, and gendered identities , and draws on research conducted within car boot sales in Britain. The article demonstrates the highly gendered nature of patterns of exchange and consumption within the space of the car boot sale; connects this to the various gender identities found within conventional retail environments, notably the department store; and examines in depth the intricacies of what happens when both women and men buy from and sell to one another in the space of the car boot sale. For women, the world of the car boot sale is shown to require the negotiation of the multiple and frequently contradictory feminine subject positions embedded in exchange and consumption, notably woman as object of masculine heterosexual desire, woman as mother and woman as homemaker. For men, by contrast, the construct of masculinity to be negotiated is apparently homogeneous, utilitarian and instrumentalist-man the builder of domestic space. The article reflects on these differences and on the highly gendered pattern of exchange and consumption found within car boot sales, arguing that both are intricately connected to the expert gendered knowledges inscribed in particular commodities, knowledges which are argued to be at a premium in spaces of second-hand exchange and consumption.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: March 1, 1998

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