Princeton University Library Catalog

Consumption Norms and Narratives in the Reality Television Show Hoarders

Berman, Michelle [Browse]
Senior thesis
Wuthnow, Robert [Browse]
Princeton University. Department of Sociology [Browse]
Class year:
112 pages
Restrictions note:
Walk-in Access. This thesis can only be viewed on computer terminals at the Mudd Manuscript Library.
Summary note:
Hoarders, people who accumulate objectively valueless objects to the detriment of their living conditions and social ties, have recently become the subject of both increased psychomedical scrutiny and popular entertainment. The reality television show Hoarders depicts interventions into the lives of these individuals, during which family members and self-proclaimed experts attempt to clean out hoarders’ homes and alter their consumption habits and relationships. Analyzing the show’s ambiguous treatment of the desires, sufferings, and rationalizations of hoarders can provide a telling look at how ideals of rational consumption and middle-class domesticity are currently being shaped by the intimate interventions of psychologists and professional organizers. While the program often depicts its subjects as grotesque spectacles, given the normative status of hyperconsumption in the United States and the economic precarity presently experienced by many Americans, the problems hoarders face mirror those encountered by many of the show’s viewers.