The storied life of singularized objects: Forces of agency and network transformation

Amber M. Epp, Linda L. Price

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

178 Scopus citations


Our study contributes to understanding the role of material culture in families. Findings from a longitudinal case study extend Kopytoff's theory of singularization by explaining what occurs between the singularization of a focal object and its recommodification. We uncover processes that move an already singularized object in and out of a network of practices, objects, and spaces; identify forces that constrain and empower a singularized object's agency within that network; and demonstrate network transformations that result from the focal object's movement. This extension explains some paradoxical findings in consumer research: how objects are granted agency even while displaced, when irreplaceable objects can be replaced, and why families sometimes displace central identity practices.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)820-837
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Consumer Research
Issue number5
StatePublished - Feb 2010

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Business and International Management
  • Anthropology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Economics and Econometrics
  • Marketing


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