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Possessions and Self

Part 3. Consumer Behavior

  1. Russell Belk

Published Online: 15 DEC 2010

DOI: 10.1002/9781444316568.wiem03037

Wiley International Encyclopedia of Marketing

Wiley International Encyclopedia of Marketing

How to Cite

Belk, R. 2010. Possessions and Self. Wiley International Encyclopedia of Marketing. 3.

Author Information

  1. York University, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 15 DEC 2010


Possessions are central to our sense of self. For better or for worse, our possessions help to tangibilize our past, our present, and perhaps our future. They may even provide a type of immortality when they remain attached to our identity after our death. Shallow materialism has been found to be harmful, but there is another sense in which our treasured possessions provide a focus of attachment in an age of otherwise disposable consumption. Possessions also provide a sense of stability and continuity in our lives. And our relationship with possessions is seldom just a person–thing relationship, but rather a person–thing–person relationship as they connect us to, remind us of, and announce something about us to various other people in our lives. This article also addresses various special meanings of possession, including coproduction, brand tribes and brand images, counterfeits, cool objects, shared possessions, and possessions as gifts.


  • possessions;
  • attachment;
  • extended self;
  • cool;
  • gifts;
  • sharing;
  • abundance