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Understanding Clutter: Geographies of Everyday Homes and Objects

Miller, Alexander James (2018) Understanding Clutter: Geographies of Everyday Homes and Objects. PhD thesis, University of Leeds.

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Abstract

Clutter is an everyday form of material culture in the home. It is increasingly prominent in popular culture and yet is under-researched by social scientists. This thesis fills this gap, working to understand clutter as a discourse, as part of everyday practices, and as something which co-constructs identities. It contributes to literatures on material culture, home life and temporal experience, drawing on research conducted with people who hoard and people who do not hoard, and a discourse analysis of decluttering texts. This is reported over three chapters of analysis. The first defines clutter. I argue all clutter is defined extrinsically, subjectively and as a problem. Clutter can also be internally differentiated into two forms: rooted clutter and flowing clutter. Rooted clutter is ‘stuck’, framed by memory and the past. Flowing clutter is mobile, orientated towards the present and the future. The second chapter explores clutter’s relationship to time using ideas of rhythm, life transitions and memory. Rooted clutter and flowing clutter and made and managed through different rhythms. The meaning of clutter changes through the process of life transitions, and is engaged with to materially enact them. Rooted clutter as a memory object communicates gaps, absences and forgettings. The third and final analysis chapter considers clutter and home. Clutter norms and practices vary by room; this develops into a conceptual argument that home is a multiple assemblage of dwelling. Clutter’s agency, in discourse and practice, is explored. Material agencies of home are shown to structure and mediate clutter practices. Finally, clutter is explored as an identity object; keeping as a material practice is discussed. Keeping clutter embodies selfhood and is an act of dwelling(-as-cultivation). Overall, this thesis shows clutter to be an important part of everyday life at home, making and mediating domestic experiences with objects and through time.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Keywords: Home; clutter; material culture; dwelling; objects
Academic Units: The University of Leeds > Faculty of Environment (Leeds) > School of Geography (Leeds)
Depositing User: Dr A J Miller
Date Deposited: 31 Oct 2019 09:16
Last Modified: 31 Oct 2019 09:16
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/24688

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