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Title: The quest for identity : the role of objects in contemporary everyday life
Author: Leonini, Luisa
ISNI:       0000 0001 3608 2771
Awarding Body: University of Edinburgh
Current Institution: University of Edinburgh
Date of Award: 1984
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The thesis explores the significance of material objects in the everyday life of contemporary individuals. It is suggested that the relationship between individuals and objects in modern /contemporary society is a peculiar one. This peculiarity derives from the essential and crucial role things play: they contribute to shape and support the individual's identity in a context of fragmentation of the work experience and of the whole life, of anonymity and depersonalization of social relations, of bureaucratization and accelerated change. In the first part of the dissertation the topic is discussed and developed mainly at a theoretical level. A revisitation of well -known authors intends to recover what has been said - explicitly or otherwise - on the social meanings and uses of objects in modern society. A review and critique of express discussions of the functions performed by objects - e.g., the literature on consumer behaviour, on possession and exchange of goods in different cultures, on the psychological and symbolical significance of things - provide the framework to understand the complexity of our relationship to things and the multiplicity of meanings and projections attached to them. In the second part of the dissertation the results of a small - scale, exploratory, qualitatively oriented, empirical investigation of people who experience a peculiar relationship to objects are discussed. Through the analysis of this empirical material several interesting features of our relationship to things emerge quite clearly: gender il differences in the way of relating to the material world; the limited relevance of the concept of status symbol to explain the reasons why we surround ourselves with objects; the great emotional significance attached to things; the essential role objects play in providing the individual with material for the presentation of one's self and to communicate symbolically with others. It is concluded that the analysis of the meanings and uses of objects in everyday life provides interesting elements to understand how the individual copes with the problems contemporary industrial society raises for the establishment and maintenance of personal identity.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Concept of identity