Roberts, A., Capdevila, R. and Wilson, P. (2007) Constructing leather through Q Methodology: current representations and understandings. Paper presented to: Psychology of Women Section Annual Conference 2007 (The British Psychological Society POWS), Cumberland Lodge, Windsor, 18-20 July 2007.
The role of material objects goes beyond their utilitarian attributes and provides a context for social relations, construction or display of identity and the expression of subjectivity. As one of the oldest materials, leather has accumulated manifold meanings and associations throughout history, drawing on a complex of sensory, cognitive and emotional experiences. While it is possible to measure the physical characteristics of leather with a high degree of accuracy, an assessment of its subjective, experiential qualities has yet to be achieved. Starting from the premise that subjective experiences are shaped by historic, cultural, and thus gendered contexts, this study uses Q methodology to explore present representations and understandings surrounding leather and leather objects, and looks at ways of expressing subjectivity through consumption experiences and practices.