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This study uses depth interviews with mothers about their disposal of children’s possessions to craft a new understanding of the role of identity in disposal. Our study asks: How does identity influence the disposal process of ordinary possessions? A disposal identity continuum of keepers and discarders emerged from the data. This new understanding suggests that disposal involves decisions regarding the match of possession to mother, partner, child, and family identities. When disposal identities lead to conflict between the actors in the disposal decision, decision makers use coping strategies such as subterfuge, avoidance, forced choice, and training/discussion. In addition, the disposal process can lead to negative emotional outcomes such as ambivalence and guilt for both keepers and discarders.

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This is an author-produced, peer-reviewed version of this article. The final, definitive version of this document can be found online at Marketing Theory, published by SAGE. Copyright restrictions may apply. DOI: 10.1177/1470593111418794

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