Depraved, Distracted, Disabled, or Just “Pack Rats”? Workplace Hoarding Personas in Physical and Virtual Realms


  • Jo Ann Oravec University of Wisconsin at Whitewater, USA



hoarding, persona, workplace disability, anxiety, popular culture, virtual goods, class, lifelogging


This article provides some potential directions in exploring the construction of the persona of the “hoarder” and addresses how such a persona can move to the foreground of an individual’s set of workplace-related personas. Hoarding throws into relief some critical concerns about the social standings of individuals in workplaces and the extent to which they have autonomous expression. The article frames hoarding in terms of its capacity to externalize particular social issues (such as environmental problems) and generate public discourse, and examines both physical hoardings (books and papers in academic and office settings, for example) and hoardings of virtual goods (such as digital music, video files, and pornographic images). Virtual hoardings have been constructed as problematic as they create barriers to the free flow of information in the workplace and can challenge organizational interests related to intellectual property concerns. Hoarding as a whole is becoming more tightly circumscribed as a workplace and community condition, in part because the ability to manage physical and virtual items in confined settings is considered central to many forms of competent societal functioning.
An assortment of human resource management initiatives to mitigate hoarding concerns has developed, including the consideration of hoarding as a disability. However, hoarding behavior is increasing creating problems for those who are searching for simple definitions or straightforward diagnostic criteria. This article also provides some structures for analysis of the class-related and economic dimensions of workplace hoarding personas, and explores potential implications of lifelogging initiatives and hoarding acceptance approaches.


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Author Biography

  • Jo Ann Oravec, University of Wisconsin at Whitewater, USA

    Jo Ann Oravec is a professor of information technology in the College of Business and Economics at the University of Wisconsin at Whitewater. She received her MBA, MS, MA, and PhD at UW-Madison. She also taught at Baruch College of the City University of New York (public policy) as well as UW-Madison and Ball State University. She chaired the Privacy Council of the State of Wisconsin, the nation's first state-level council dealing with information technology and privacy. She has written books including "Virtual Individuals, Virtual Groups: Human Dimensions of Groupware and Computer Networking" (Cambridge University Press). She has written extensively on privacy, American studies, artificial intelligence, futurism, online reputational systems, and emerging technologies.  She has held visiting fellow positions at both Cambridge and Oxford and has been a featured speaker at conferences in Hiroshima.


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Depraved, Distracted, Disabled, or Just “Pack Rats”? Workplace Hoarding Personas in Physical and Virtual Realms. (2015). Persona Studies, 1(2), 75-87.