Meaning in hoarding: perspectives of people who hoard on clutter, culture, and agency

Orr, David M R, Preston-Shoot, Michael and Braye, Suzy (2017) Meaning in hoarding: perspectives of people who hoard on clutter, culture, and agency. Anthropology & Medicine. ISSN 1364-8470

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Abstract

Hoarding has become increasingly prominent in clinical practice and popular culture in recent years, giving rise to extensive research and commentary. Critical responses in the social sciences have criticised the cultural assumptions built in to the construct of ‘hoarding disorder’ and expressed fears that it may generate stigma outweighing its benefits; however, few of these studies have engaged directly with ‘hoarders’ themselves. This paper reports on in-depth, semi-structured interviews with ten individuals living in England, who received assessment and intervention for hoarding from Social Services. Their narratives drew on the cultural repertoire of values and discourses around waste and worth, the mediation of sociality and relationships through material objects, physical constraints on keeping order, and the role played by mental health. Analysing these perspectives anthropologically shows how dominant models of hoarding, such as the DSM-5 paradigm, potentially lend themselves to reductionist understandings that efface the meaning ‘hoarding’ may have and thereby deny agency to the person labelled as ‘hoarder’. More culturally informed analysis, by contrast, affords insights into the complex landscape of value, waste, social critique, emotion, interpersonal relationships and practical difficulties that may underlie hoarding cases, and points the way to more person-centred practice and analysis.

Item Type: Article
Schools and Departments: School of Education and Social Work > Social Work and Social Care
Subjects: L Education
Depositing User: Deeptima Massey
Date Deposited: 27 Nov 2017 10:04
Last Modified: 26 Feb 2018 10:58
URI: http://sro.sussex.ac.uk/id/eprint/71604

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Project NameSussex Project NumberFunderFunder Ref
Self-Neglect ResearchG1109Department of Health, EnglandUnset