In: Business and Management

Submitted By Shaikg
Words 11788
Pages 48
Growing in Motion: The Circulation of Used Things on
Second‐hand Markets1
By Staffan Appelgren & Anna Bohlin

From having been associated with poverty and low status, the commerce with second-hand goods in retro shops, flea markets, vintage boutiques and trade via
Internet is expanding in Sweden as in many countries in the Global North. This article argues that a significant aspect of the recent interest in second-hand and reuse concerns the meaningfulness of circulation in social life. Using classic anthropological theory on how the circulation of material culture generates sociality, it focuses on how second-hand things are transformed by their circulation. Rather than merely having cultural biographies, second-hand things are reconfigured through their shifts between different social contexts in a process that here is understood as a form of growing. Similar to that of an organism, this growth is continuous, irreversible and dependent on forces both internal and external to it. What emerges is a category of things that combine elements of both commodities and gifts, as these have been theorized within anthropology. While first cycle commodities are purified of their sociality, the hybrid second-hand thing derives its ontological status as well as social and commercial value precisely from retaining
‘gift qualities’, produced by its circulation.
Keywords: Second-hand, circulation, material culture, retro, vintage, growing, gifts, commodities

Appelgren, Staffan & Anna Bohlin: “Growing in Motion”
Culture Unbound, Volume 7, 2015: 143-168. Published by Linköping University Electronic Press: http://www.cultureunbound.ep.liu.se Thus, one of the most important and unusual features of the Kula is the existence of the Kula vaygu’a, the incessantly circulating and ever exchangeable valuables, owing their value to this very circulation…...

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