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Explaining informal and second‐hand goods acquisition

Colin C. Williams (Reader in Economic Geography, University of Leicester, Leicester LE1 7RH, England)

International Journal of Sociology and Social Policy

ISSN: 0144-333X

Article publication date: 1 December 2003



In the past few years, the view that participation in informal and/or second‐hand modes of goods acquisition results from economic necessity has been contested by an agency‐orientated cultural reading that views such engagement to be about the search for fun, sociality, distinction, discernment, the spectacular and so forth, and more recently by an approach that ascribes agency‐orientated motives to affluent populations and economic rationales to deprived populations. Drawing upon 120 face‐to‐face interviews conducted in the English city of Leicester however, the aim of this article is to display how engagement cannot be simply reduced to either economic necessity or agency. Finding that both co‐exist in people’s explanations for participation and combine in varying ways in different populations, a both/and approach is here advocated that recognises the entanglement of both economic necessity and choice in rationales for participation in informal and second‐hand modes of goods acquisition.



Williams, C.C. (2003), "Explaining informal and second‐hand goods acquisition", International Journal of Sociology and Social Policy, Vol. 23 No. 12, pp. 95-110.




Copyright © 2003, MCB UP Limited

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