PARASITE

The use of the home for purposes of ‘self-presentation’ is not a new concept to the study of domestic interiors. Within the academic literature the home is often posited as a key arena in transmitting and codifying an image of oneself to others, through the appropriation of the material environment. Indeed, these associations are so innately tied that one might expect that ‘home decoration’ as a single topic covers the spectrum of practices involved in self-expression or presentation.

Home possessions : : material culture behind closed doors

The result of such studies led to the recognition that far from being ‘conspicuous consumption’, practices involved in the organization of the domestic interior have the capacity to relate to an overt or latent sense of self which transcends an image of home as purely a presentation field (see Hecht, Chapter Seven of this volume).

Home possessions : : material culture behind closed doors

These factors all contribute to the seriousness of ‘decorative narratives’, the biography of the household through a long-term perspective. ‘Narrative’ as Giddens defines it (see below) has direct implications on ideas of self, and the portrayal of self to a social audience.

Home possessions : : material culture behind closed doors

In looking at continual action and ideas of self, Giddens (1991) suggests that mechanisms of self-identity in the modern age must be seen as interactive and mutually constitutive with one’s social (and material) environment.

Home possessions : : material culture behind closed doors

As she discusses the post-box episode, her home becomes a canvas through which she pictured her ‘true’ identity.

Home possessions : : material culture behind closed doors

The relations between domestic space and self.

In short, where we cannot possess we are in danger of becoming possessed.

Home possessions : : material culture behind closed doors

Being dominated by the space.

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