Consumer Culture Theory (CCT) is an interdisciplinary field that comprises macro, interpretive, and critical perspectives of consumer behaviour, and the CCT conference has become the premier international venue for consumer culture researchers spanning a broad spectrum of academic disciplines to come together to share their ideas, empirical insights, and theoretical interests in an engaging, cutting edge, collegial forum. The conference invites original contributions in the form of full papers that undergo a rigorous peer review process with three double blind reviewers, and as a result research presented at the conference is consistently of an exceptionally high standard. At this year’s conference in Tucson, Arizona, Bournemouth University PhD student Rebecca Watkins and senior lecturer Dr. Mike Molesworth were awarded Best Competitive Paper for their contribution entitled ‘The Biographies of Digital Virtual Goods’. The paper communicated empirical findings from Rebecca’s PhD research which explores ownership and possession in the context of digital goods, from magical swords, luxury cars and avatars within virtual worlds, to mp3s, ebooks, and social networking profiles. Building on award winning research by Dr Denegri-Knott and Dr Molesworth from Bournemouth University’s Media School, Rebecca and Mike highlight the ways in which the nature of digital goods encourages the delaying of classification decisions, resulting in vast digital hoards, and in doing so contribute to existing understanding of digital goods as possessions by providing insight into their biographies, including the significant ways in which they diverge from the typical biographies of material goods. Thus a key contribution of the paper, and of Rebecca’s research more broadly, is to illustrate that our understanding of material culture and consumption, so understandably rooted in the materiality of goods, is problematised by the emergence of digital possessions, often leading to tense and turbulent relationships between consumers and the providers of these digital goods that are yet to be adequately addressed by policy makers.
*Rebecca’s attendance at the conference was partially funded by the Graduate School’s PGR Development Fund