On Collecting: An Investigation into Collecting in the European Tradition, 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

On Collecting

An Investigation into Collecting in the European Tradition, 1st Edition

By Susan Pearce


456 pages

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Breaking new ground in its analysis of our relationship to the material world, On Collecting examines the nature of collecting both in Europe and among people living within the European tradition elsewhere.

Gathering objects together is a universal human custom, yet every society collects in different ways. Susan Pearce looks at the way we collect and what this tells us about ourselves and our society. She also explores the psychology of collecting:

  • Why do we bestow value on certain objects?
  • How does this add meaning to our lives?
  • Do men and women collect differently?
  • How do we use objects to construct our identity?

On Collecting is valuable to museums professionals and students, cultural historians and anyone interested in the widespread social phenomenon of collecting.


'Pearce successfully documents the continuity of object accumulation in the European pursuit of knowledge and identifies "a willingness to speak with things" as its central expressive theme.' - Steve Chibnall, De Montfort University

Table of Contents

List of Plates List of figures Acknowledgements Preface Part 1: Collecting Processes Part 2: Collecting in Practice Part 3: Collecting Poetics Part 4: The Politics of Collecting Part 5: Collecting in the European Tradition Bibliography Index

About the Series

Collecting Cultures

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
BUSINESS & ECONOMICS / Museum Administration & Museology
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Archaeology