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Belonging

  • By: Cynthia K. Isenhour
  • In: Encyclopedia of Consumer Culture
  • Edited by: Dale Southerton
  • Subject:Sociology of Consumption, Consumer Psychology, Consumer Culture

Belonging has dual, related meanings. First, it refers to a personal object or possession (e.g., the chair was his favorite belonging). Alternatively, the term refers to a sense of inclusion in a social category or group (e.g., club activities promote a strong sense of belonging). In English usage, the verb “to belong” was first recorded in 1340, meaning “to be along or relate to.” The first recorded use of the noun dates to 1817, meaning “goods or effects.” However, the concept of belonging predates the English usage of the word.

A belonging implies ownership of a tangible object, specifically for personal use and satisfaction. The archaeological record suggests that prehistorical societies, even those with a seemingly egalitarian social structure and communitarian resource distribution, had some ...

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