Negotiating the norms of consumption : an exploration of ordinary practices of disposing
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Recently, disposing has attracted lots of research attention. While some researchers frame disposing as a practice of ordering, identity management, and psychological relief, others associate it with overconsumption, waste of usable resources, and environmental hazard. Although disposing is related to such seemingly conflicting meanings and consumption practices, consumer researchers mostly bypass the broader structures, grand practices, and ideological and discursive meaning systems underlying disposing practices. Using ethnographic methods, this study explores disposing as a mundane practice, embedded in contexts with socio-cultural, economic, historical, and political dimensions. The research aims to reveal when and how consumers practice disposing by highlighting the normative and ideological structures that help constructing these practices. It also aims to shed light on how disposing might relate to other consumption practices. The results depict disposing as embedded in four meta-practices at the intersection of various tensions and ideologies feeding these. Steeped in these grand discourses of consumption, disposing helps moralizing consumption and allows consumers to experience morality without standing against consumerism or adopting new lifestyles. Rather than just facilitating consumer resistance, disposing also helps consumers to compromise with the market. The results complicate the linear framing of consuming as acquiring-using-disposing by highlighting how disposing reflects on the object’s consumption and is constructive of its value. The study also reveals new practices through which consumers negotiate disposing and highlight a new dimension of object attachment. The results have important implications for the disposition, moral consumption, and value research.