Use this URL to cite or link to this record in EThOS:
Title: The social agency of postage stamps : Japanese postage stamps in a global context
Author: Frewer, Douglas Charles Terrington
ISNI:       0000 0001 3484 4429
Awarding Body: Oxford Brookes University
Current Institution: Oxford Brookes University
Date of Award: 2004
Availability of Full Text:
Access from EThOS:
Access from Institution:
This thesis is concerned with evaluating postage stamps as social agents, using Japan as a case study. For the period 1937-1988 it identifies various messages about Japanese identity implied by the symbolism used by Japanese Governments in their postage stamp designs and by their choice of special issues. It explores the extent to which those messages have been received by both Japanese and British collectors of these stamps and the reasons why their communication has been found to be largely ineffective. The study identifies the tendency of stamp users to appreciate stamps aesthetically, as art objects, rather than as symbols and the practices of stamp collecting as the major obstacles to the recognition of their symbolic messages. The view that stamp collecting is a social practice which is defined by the cultural traditions of the collectors' societies is questioned. Evidence is offered for the 'globalisation' of this form of collecting and for the evolution of postage stamps from being utility items largely confined to their issuing societies into 'collectibles' designed for a global market. The implications of: Governments' acceptance of this change in postage stamps' status; the moves to privatise postal services; and the availability of new technology, both for Governments' continued use of stamps as 'little diplomats' and for theories of collecting are shown to need further study. My thesis suggests that the social agency of postage stamps has been more effective in helping to establish the self-identity of their collectors as collectors rather than in giving those collectors insight into the identities of the countries issuing them and that the social agency of material objects is determined more by their users than by their producers.
Supervisor: Hendry, Joy ; MacClancy, Jeremy ; Atherton, Catherine Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral