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Free repair against the consumer society: How repair cafés socialize people to a new relationship to objects

Abstract : Several authors have described contemporary purchasing and consumption behavior as part of a “throwaway society.” Broader movements around environmental and consumer issues try to offset this process. Among these movements, Repair Cafés—places where volunteers help people repair their household items for free—are an interesting vantage point to study how a different relationship to objects can be transmitted by practicing repair. By conducting qualitative field observations, semi-structured interviews and quantitative questionnaires in three French Repair Cafés, I show that these organizations, which are intended to be places of learning, aimed at empowering individuals to deal with their household goods by teaching them repair techniques, cannot help but drift toward a logic of service, where audiences play the role of consumers rather than learners. But I argue that this service relationship has the advantage of attracting many individuals who are not familiar with the issue of product durability, and of socializing them, through concrete practice, to a new reflex of repair.
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Submitted on : Friday, March 26, 2021 - 10:11:06 AM
Last modification on : Wednesday, October 20, 2021 - 11:49:15 AM

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Julie Madon. Free repair against the consumer society: How repair cafés socialize people to a new relationship to objects. Journal of Consumer Culture, SAGE Publications, 2021, pp.online - online. ⟨10.1177/1469540521990871⟩. ⟨hal-03182054⟩

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