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Accepted Paper:

Irene Marti Gil (Louisiana State University)

Paper short abstract:

The rise of a digital world has brought millennials new ways of satiating the human desire for amassing and displaying capital. Intangible assets in the form of collective and personal experiences are prestige-markers to be collected and curated in modern exhibition cabinets—social media platforms.

Paper long abstract:

The current socio-political and economic circumstances, intimately affected by the exponential development of technology, have impacted millennials' consumerism patterns. Today's globalized mass-consumption trends have paradoxically triggered a postmaterial "experience economy,” leaning toward the increasing appreciation of ephemerality, immediacy, and immateriality. The movement from materialism to postmaterialism has impacted collecting tendencies among the millennial generation, which seem to distance themselves from the long-established accumulation of material culture to approach the gathering of cultural and recreational experiences as status-markers and personhood-definers.

This presentation is intended to expand the traditionally object-based definition of collectionism by adding a new aspect to it —the "intangible collecting." Cultural, recreational, professional, academic, and personal experiences are deliberately gathered with the intention of, not only living through them, but curating and displaying them in the contemporary exhibition cabinets— the social media platforms. These are an ideal stage for displaying social and economic capital in the digital and ephemeral museums of intangible memorabilia. Similar to traditionally tangible collectibles, nonmaterial assets are employed to define the self, add value and prestige, and create social relationships of similarity and otherness. To prove the validity of this new concept and its usefulness in anthropological research, I contextualize the millennial generation to gain understanding about their needs, aspirations, and consumption patterns. Then, I analyze the effects of technology, and particularly of the internet, on the collecting phenomenon. Finally, I shape what "intangible collecting" is by assessing its suitability in the existing collecting theory regarding collectors' drive, modes of collecting, and subject-object relationships.

Panel P20d
Digitalization and the Reconstitution of the Social and Political Realities of Human Being
  Session 1 Thursday 9 June, 2022, -