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School of Business | Department of Marketing | Marketing | 2012
Thesis number: 12988
Hoarder's stories of loss and disposing of possessions
Author: Tiimo, Maija
Title: Hoarder's stories of loss and disposing of possessions
Year: 2012  Language: eng
Department: Department of Marketing
Academic subject: Marketing
Index terms: markkinointi; marketing; kuluttajat; consumers; kuluttajakäyttäytyminen; consumer behaviour; shoppailu; shopping; psykologia; psychology; identiteetti; identity; etnografia; ethnography
Pages: 74
Key terms: marketing; markkinointi; consumer behaviour; kuluttajakäyttäytyminen; compulsive hoarding; pakonomainen keräily; identity; identiteetti; narrative; tarina; consumption; kulutus
Objective: The broad aim of this study is to gain understanding about hoarders as both consumers and individuals. This research seeks to provide deeper understanding of hoarding by examining it from the viewpoint of loss and disposing of possessions. Specifically, this research studies how hoarders tell stories about disposition and loss of possessions. By studying the difficulty in abandoning possessions, we can grasp the deeper meanings behind possessions and thus find the meaning of hoarding. This research also aims to understand how consumption plays a role in self-creation and identity construction within hoarders.

Research method: The empirical part of this study focused on one hoarder. To gain rich and deep understanding, both ethnographic research and open-ended interviews were utilized as research methods. Ethnographic research included six months of weekly participant observations in the hoarder's apartment in order to gain in-depth description of the meaning of disposition and of hoarding practices in general. After that, a life-story interview and narrative interviews concerning hoarding were conducted. The data was analyzed through employing narrative analysis method which involves constructing a coherent story from the shattered data elements.

Findings: The findings suggest that possessions are extremely important for hoarders and hoarders are emotionally attached to their possessions which makes disposition hard. Hoarders feel responsibility for their possessions and a need to protect them from harm, such as disposition. Possessions are attached with memories of past, of other people and of achievements. Hoarders see possessions as an extension of self and because of the deep attachment, losing a possession can almost feel like losing a friend or losing a part of the extended self. The self-extension was found to be the most important reason for keeping the possessions which implies that hoarding can be seen as a way of extending one through possessions. Another finding was that a traumatic life event can be a starting point for hoarding and people who have experienced traumatic life events, may be escaping their trauma by hoarding. The findings contribute to the existing consumer research by revealing the close connection between self-extension and hoarding.
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