Product, competence, project and practice: DIY and the dynamics of craft consumption

Authored with Elizabeth Shove and published in the Journal of Consumer Culture in 2008. In this article we examine the recursive relation between products, projects and practices with reference to DIY and home improvement – an important area of craft consumption and a field in which consumers are actively and creatively engaged in integrating and transforming complex arrays of material goods.

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Watson M and E Shove (2008) ‘Product, competence, project and practice: DIY and the dynamics of craft consumption’ Journal of Consumer Culture 8: 69-89

ABSTRACT Studies of ordinary (as distinct from spectacular) forms of consumption have generated new questions and new ways of thinking about mechanisms and processes of change and about the conceptual status of consumer goods. No longer exclusively framed as semiotic resources deployed in the expression and reproduction of identities and social relations, products are increasingly viewed as essential ingredients in the effective accomplishment of everyday life. In this article we examine the recursive relation between products, projects and practices with reference to DIY and home improvement – an important area of craft consumption and a field in which consumers are actively and creatively engaged in integrating and transforming complex arrays of material goods. Interviews with DIY practitioners and retailers point to a circuit of interdependent relations between the hardware of consumption (tools, materials, etc.); distributions of competence (between humans and non-humans); the emergence of consumer projects and, with them, new patterns of demand. In elaborating on these practical and theoretical linkages we develop an analysis of the material dynamics of craft consumption that bridges between approaches rooted in science studies, material culture and consumption

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Author: Matt Watson

A Human Geographer at the University of Sheffield, interested in how everyday human action and social orders make each other, with implications for sustainability and wellbeing. Currently looking at energy including how to tackle demand for it.

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