Griffith University, Australia
York University, Canada
It is not clear precisely when clutter became a problem in the homes of middle-class consumers, but during the 1990s and 2000s a variety of professional organizers, self-help books, and online sites began to address the problem. The international bestseller Organizing from the Inside Out by Julie Morgenstern (2000) and Clear Your Clutter by Karen Kingston (1998), Clean Sweep by Alison Haynes (2004), and Teach Yourself Decluttering by Bernice Walmsley (2006) illustrate society's preoccupation with clutter and organizing. Television shows in the United Kingdom and United States also emerged focusing on the problems of hoarding and the necessity for professional decluttering (Belk 2014). As clutter was progressively problematized (Frost and Steketee 2010), hoarding became a formally recognized psychiatric disorder in DSM-5 (The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders). Nevertheless, both clutter and hoarding are social judgments, and were not seen as problems in the object-crowded rooms of the Victorian era. While the American television show Hoarders started out as an entertaining look inside cluttered homes, the producers quickly concluded that their subjects had serious problems that required counseling more than cleansing (Paxton 2011).
In consumer culture, decluttering aims at clearing out the mess, disorder, and complications that ...