How digitalization blurs boundaries, makes things ungraspable, and affects psychological appropriation

Bernadette Kamleitner*, Michail D. Kokkoris

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book / Report / Conference proceedingChapterAcademicpeer-review

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This chapter suggests that the essence of digitalization affects people’s ability and desire for psychological appropriation. This is because digitalization has blurred numerous perceptual and conceptual boundaries in the digital sphere and beyond. This “Big Blur” affects people in multiple ways (e.g., promises freedom but threatens structure, orientation, and meaning). In particular, people struggle to “grasp” blurred entities and concepts. Yet, graspability is necessary for the deep-seated human experience of psychological appropriation. Digital consumers are, thus, likely to respond to diminished graspability by craving for psychological ownership and diverse current market trends support this proposition (e.g., use of “my” claims in marketing, regionality, voluntary simplicity and minimalism). Notably, this gives rise to a vicious circle in which digitalization simultaneously erodes and fuels the desire for psychological appropriation. Digitally enabled promises of graspability often center on the grasping of mere facades (e.g., user-friendly interfaces). This implies that digitalization is often being used to promise (but not deliver) a cure for the lack of graspability it causes.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Routledge Handbook of Digital Consumption
EditorsRosa Llamas, Russell Belk
Place of PublicationMilton Park
Number of pages12
ISBN (Electronic)9781000644616
ISBN (Print)9781032329604
Publication statusPublished - 2022


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