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date: 12 December 2019

Abstract and Keywords

Both hoarding and collecting are extreme consumption activities. They both involve acquiring, owning, and curating objects from the material world. But while collecting is generally revered, hoarding is generally reviled. After distinguishing the processes and phenomena of collecting and hoarding, this chapter seeks to provide an understanding of why they are so differently regarded. The answer is found partly in the different individual tendencies behind each extreme consumption activities and their effects on individuals and households. But they also benefit or suffer from the criteria that society uses to criticize or valorize various behaviors. Collecting is socially judged to be a “good,” rule-governed, and meaningful activity, while hoarding is deemed to be “bad,” random, and chaotic. These criteria are learned and reinforced from childhood. Despite being different activities, there is found to be a small area of overlap where the two activities blend into one another. In terms of overall implications for ownership behaviors and attitudes, moderation seems to be the best admonition: both too little and too much can be the source of unhappiness and criticism. But when following “good” collection rules, there may be a higher bar for how much is considered moderate.

Keywords: hoarding, collecting, acquiring, curating, ownership, behavior, attitudes

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