The broadening boundaries of materialism

Aleksandrina Atanasova, Giana M. Eckhardt

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The implications of waning desire for ownership on materialism are not well understood. This study examines the interface between materialism and consumption and asks, is materialism manifest in the absence of ownership centrality, and if so, how? Drawing from an interpretive investigation of digital nomads, it is suggested that materialism has broadened to adapt to non ownership centrality, and we define it as a logic of consumption, which manifests as a preoccupation with the consumption of objects, access or experiences as a way to signal status, build image, pursue happiness, and attain a sense of self-worth. Three discrete but complementary ways through which materialism emerges in the absence of ownership centrality are identified: (1) preoccupation with strategic curation rather than accumulation, (2) intentional prioritization of experiential consumption over ownership as a means to fulfill materialistic aims, and (3) adoption of bricolages across spectrums of consumption (solid/liquid, budget/luxury, access/ownership)
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-20
JournalMarketing Theory
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 27 May 2021


  • Access
  • digital nomads
  • experiential consumption
  • liquidity
  • materialism
  • minimalism
  • status signaling
  • symbolic consumption


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