Clutter as Consumerism

By Kristin Du Mez (at the link read more):

Imagine for a moment a team of anthropologists walking through your door, taking a look around, and settling in for a close observation of your possessions, how you interact with them, and what this means about American life.

That’s pretty much what happened to 32 middle-class families between 2001-2005. I recently came across the results of this anthropological study, published in 2012: Life at Home in the Twenty-First Century: 32 Families Open Their Doors, by Jeanne E. Arnold, Anthony P. Graesch, Enzo Ragazzini, and Elinor Ochs. Together with a large research team, the authors analyzed and cataloged the visible possessions in each and every room of the 32 households—counting, documenting, examining, and coding artifacts in situ, in their place.

Devoting thousands of hours to data collection, they hoped to glean insights on the acquisition and organization of material artifacts, and on how families interacted with their possessions, and with one another. The results of the study are at once illuminating and devastating.

Their most striking findings concern the sheer magnitude of our material possessions.

A few examples:

Seventy-five percent of garages contain no cars. They’ve been repurposed to contain surplus stuff—unused furniture, bins containing countless forgotten-but-not-gone possessions. (The typical garage contains between 300-650 boxes; nearly 90 percent of garage square footage is being used for storage, rather than for cars).

Kids’ toys have taken over entire homes, spilling out of bedrooms and into every habitable space. The quantities documented are staggering ….

 

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