Prolonging life: appreciations of a second-hand ‘capital’ machine

Spiller, Keith (2014). Prolonging life: appreciations of a second-hand ‘capital’ machine. Environment and Planning A, 46(12) pp. 2848–2863.



In this paper I look at a farm that diversified its business and within this process bought a second-hand sausage vacuum-filler. I do this in order to question how this machine came to be understood and valued by the farmers who bought it. The themes discussed include the role of the machine in changing the working practices of the farm, as well as factors unknown when buying second-hand – purchasers can only ever truly know the reliability and levels of performance of the machine retrospectively. While much work has considered the second-hand cultures of goods such as clothes, brick-a-brac or cars, the departure I make here is to consider goods bought and used in commercial contexts. I consider the calculations made when a second-hand commodity is invested with the risks and tensions of expanding a business. There are critical and additional pressures resting on the machine, for example, if the machine fails to work it may be detrimental to the business. The paper focuses on the appreciations of two farmers and how the machine they bought was used and appreciated.

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