Cheetham, Fiona (2009) Out of control? An ethnographic analysis of the disposal of collectable objects through auction. Journal of Consumer Behaviour, 8 (6). pp. 316-326. ISSN 1472-0817

This research contributes to our understanding of disposal by attempting to foreground the journey of the disposed object rather than examining disposal from the perspective of the seller as previous consumer researchers have done. Drawing on ideas taken from anthropological analyses of objects and markets the paper provides a glimpse of the cultural biographies of a number of collectable objects as they are disposed of through the public arena of auction. Analysing the disposal of meaningful possessions through auction provides a different context and associated dynamics to that studied in previous research on disposal. Ethnographic analysis indicates that in spite of the fact that the practices and rituals of auction facilitate a process of commoditisation which erases the cultural biography of objects, still traces of their previous cultural history transfer with these objects to their new owners. The objects themselves are implicated in this transfer of meaning indicating that objects do have some kind of social agency.

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