The average citizen of the modern Western world owns around 10,000 things—a mind-blowing number. Driven by mass production and mass consumerism, this deluge of stuff has drawn censure from cultural critics from the dawn of industrialization to the present day. Things have always played a salient role in art, but in recent years, various academic disciplines (ethnology, cultural scholarship, material culture studies, thing studies) have contributed to a new and more favorable assessment.
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