(You can skim this short email or dive in to the many links to learn more!)
? FIRST – THE PODCAST
Following last week’s “Fashion” podcast, I thought you might like to learn more about the symbolism associated with our clothing and ALL of our possessions. Beyond clothing, there are the obvious possessions – our cars, our homes, our smart phones. But there are also many less obvious things, like our social media pages, our partners and our children. Our guest expert, award-winning marketing Professor Russell Belk says that possessions include “anything that is ‘ours’.”
I met Professor Belk – or “Russ,” as he likes to be called – over 15yrs ago at an academic conference when I was a student. He is one of those celebrity professors whose work has been read and cited by nearly everyone. One of his most seminal papers, called “Possessions & the Extended Self,” now has almost 10,000 citations. That is like being a rock-star in academia. ?
Here are a few of the takeaways:
- We need to be culturally sensitive in terms of our possessions. Cultural differences account for many of the “mistakes” that people may make when they are trying to implicitly communicate things, particularly thorough their possessions. In fact, how we describe ourselves varies by culture….
- Our identity, our self, is not static. It evolves over time. Our possessions and our identities may be more ephemeral now than in the past. Nowadays people are more likely to have several different careers over their lifetime. This is one example of how our identities can evolve. Possessions can also be ephemeral, particularly given the effects of digitization and the sharing economy.
- The extent to which materialism is acceptable, varies over time, by culture, and by the state of the economy. Younger generations are exhibiting a more simplified lifestyle, a lack of attachment and de-materialisation of possessions. The sharing economy may propel these changes.
Regardless of this de-materialization trend, Russ concludes by saying,
but we may find other ways
to communicate what we think of ourselves ...”
Brilliant. Thank you, Russ!
?THE SHARING ECONOMY
Remember in kindergarten when we learned how to SHARE?
Well, “the sharing economy” takes that to a whole new level!
A few new ways to share:
Yes, there’s UBER. In fact, the growth of the sharing economy is sometimes referred to as “Uberization.” There are also car sharing organizations such as Zipcar and Maven… And bike sharing, which is probably local to your city. (In my city: here. In your city: “Hey Siri – How do I bike share in CITY?”)
(your kindergarten teacher would be so proud!)
?? ON BEING COOL
Professor Russell Belk has an interesting take on “being cool.” In the podcast, he says, “Cool, for example, is a different status system than the socioeconomic one because it is not so dependent upon wealth. It’s more dependent on demeanour and rather than putting on cool things, you’re endowing things with coolness…” You can read more in the shownotes here. (And yes, Russ is definitely cool.)
We can’t talk “Cool” without talking The Fonz. Henry Winkler starred as Fonzie on Happy Days from 1974-84. Remember “aayyyy” and “sit on it”? ? (Here is 5minutes of “the best of Happy Days”. You’re welcome.)
Yes, there is a Wikifact step-by-step guide to being cool. (OMGosh – I just read them and they are ALL are focused on COMMUNICATION. Awesome!!!)
I’ll leave it at that.
QUOTES WORTH TALKING ABOUT
This week we focus on… POSSESSIONS!
After I conducted this interview with Professor Russell Belk, I definitely became more aware of the material things that are “mine.” I am thinking a lot more about sharing too.
I would ❤️to hear about your experiences in the sharing economy. I use Uber regularly and I put books in my friend Suzanne’s “Little Free Library.” What else should I try? Any SHARING wins to recommend? Any disasters? Bring it on! I would love to hear all about it. If you ever have comments, suggestions, or ideas, bring it on! Please email me anytime.
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Have a great week.
Dr. Andrea Wojnicki
Founder & Chief Talker – Talk About Talk Inc.
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