Possession work on hosted digital consumption objects as consumer ensnarement

Mike Molesworth*, Rebecca Watkins, Janice Denegri-Knott

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Citations (Scopus)


This article extends prior critical discussions of digital prosumption by demonstrating that prosumerreliant online business models represent new ways to valorize consumer labor through the creation of digital consumption objects (DCOs) that are simultaneously enacted as assets by companies, and as possessions by consumers. We argue that this multiplicity means that consumers’ “possession work” no longer serves to separate these objects from the market sphere, as proposed in prior literature. This produces a new form of consumer lock-in as consumers’ efforts to singularize DCOs ensnare them within market relations. We compare consumer ensnarement to other forms of lock-in mechanisms including psychological attachments seen in “brand love,” proprietary tie-ins, and access-based market systems in order to consider the implications of such ensnarement mechanisms. We propose that while, for companies, ensnarement is as an attractive mechanism for ongoing valorization of consumers’ “free labor,” it presents significant consequences for ensnared consumers who may be subject not only to ongoing financial exploitation but also to restricted and unstable interactions with digital possessions that may hold significant personal meaning.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)247-261
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of the Association for Consumer Research
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2016

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016 the Association for Consumer Research.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Applied Psychology
  • Economics and Econometrics
  • Marketing


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