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Different types of collecting and the attitudes surrounding them

Hoebink, Reijnders and Waysdorf (2014) note that “fandom and collecting are [an] interwoven phenomena” despite this there has been little study into the relationship between fans and their habits regarding collection, as most scholars prefer to focus on fan made items and their relationships with them. This could be due to the conflicting ideals around consumption within fandom, as many scholars raise issues such as ‘the spectre of the duped’ or the ‘obsessive consumer’ (Hoebink, Reijnders and Waysdorf, 2014). I am a passionate fan of a wide range of genres, and have been collecting various items (from books, to figures, and now most recently albums) throughout my life. When told we could explore any area of interest through this task, myself and Em couldn’t resist.

Through this project we’re hoping to find a link between individuals and the reasons they collect, as well as some wider ranging beliefs surrounding collecting culture and habits. We’ve recently put up several polls on Twitter to gauge interest in the topic and have been met with great positive responses, our questions have ranged from topics around what people collect, to how much they invest and even if they have been collecting from a young age. We are interested in exploring the implications of a consumer culture that encourages children to collect from a young age, as well as learn why collecting is such a common hobby.

We believe this is an interesting avenue to pursue, and something viable due to the large amount of interaction and support we have received in such a limited timeframe. We decided to work together as while we both have different areas of interest, collecting as a whole is something that interests us both, we’ve also found it very helpful for polling purposes as we both follow and connect with different subsets of the BCM community. While we do note that polling has some fallacies – it is difficult to gauge the true response from BCM212 students, as people from outside the subject are able to respond to the polls – the number of students active on the platform and those responding directly in the comments indicates that there is interest in the project. We believe this is due to the fact that collecting is such a wide-spread hobby that many of our peers have engaged in throughout their lives. Many scholars have also investigated the topic, but as noted above the links between fandom and collecting is something worth exploring further into.

Belk’s (2013) research has been a valuable resource into defining the history of collecting, and its continued prevalence in society. Belk investigates the relationship between mass production and an increasingly consumerist society, also looking into the habit of collecting engaged in by children compared to the curated hobby seen in adults. Further, Kushner (2019) explores the relationship between collecting and the media. Through this Kushner confirms that the act of collecting stems from a consumer culture that has emerged from capitalist roots, however a modern context explores displaced collections stemming from changing media and new collecting practices that have emerged to fill this void. Kushner also explores the effects these changing media practices in relation to the shift between physical and digital connection, something I find particularly interesting.

While I am more interested in the connections between fandom and collecting, Em has decided to look further into the links between sentimental attachment. Yap and Grisham’s (2019) research into the negative views towards large collections, as well as their connections to hoarding has provided some interesting insight into the link between sentimental collections and the origins of hoarding disorders. They also explore the mental comfort and safety correlations individuals hold toward collections, and the idea that collections can be an extension of individuality.

Through this research we have come to the conclusion that our area of interest is an important area to consider, and we are very interested to see the relationship between collecting and a changing society, especially in regards to digitalisation and consumerism.

Belk, R., 2013. Collecting in a consumer society. 1st ed. London: Routledge.
Hoebink, D., Reijnders, S. and Waysdorf, A., 2014. Exhibiting fandom: A museological perspective. Transformative Works and Cultures, 16.
Kushner, S., 2019. Collecting and media change, or: Listening to Phish via app. Convergence: The International Journal of Research into New Media Technologies, 26(4), pp.969-989.
Yap, K. and Grisham, J., 2019. Unpacking the construct of emotional attachment to objects and its association with hoarding symptoms. Journal of Behavioral Addictions, [online] 8(2), pp.249-258. Available at: <> [Accessed 17 March 2021].

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