Auction House Social Club — Rounds

A multi-part entry from observations at an auction house. Starts here.


Making Rounds

Increasing status and relationship between members require personal as well as the professional interactions. Members accomplish this by holding conversations and sharing information outside of the bidding circle. In my field notes I recalled some of these interactions.

Inside the auction barn, an old stove became the center of interactions for a group of men on one cold auction day. On that chilly and wet October afternoon, the auctioneer was slowly making his way through the wet items on the open lot while the enclosed auction barn became a haven for the chilled. Inside the auction barn, an overhead furnace belched warm air onto about 30 people who had gathered inside out of the cold. Some, like the three elderly ladies who had selected seats in the path of the warm airflow, were sitting and chatting with friends and acquaintances while others wandered about the barn looking at items, drinking from steaming cups of coffee or hanging around an old coal stove. auctioneer1The old stove with its stovepipe chimney that exited the building through a nearby window was cold and dark but still seemed to represent a gathering place for men. Middle-aged and older men walked up to the stove and put their hands out for warmth. They seemed disappointed at the unresponsive cold iron, but still they lingered as if the stove itself drew them together. As long as other people were there, it didn’t seem to matter that the stove was cold. Eventually, the old timers left, but another group soon reconvened at the stove. They, too, held up their hands and commented that the stove didn’t work well. While they realized that the stove wasn’t working, it still seemed to represent a point of connection, reminding me of a group of men who liked to sit around an old potbelly stove at my grandfather’s service station.

Although, recent arguments have arisen against the correlation between community and place (Bird, 1999). I propose that place as well as products play a major role in linking participants or members to a community. Bird (1999) quotes Doheny-Farina as supporting this concept: “A community is bound by place, which always includes complex social and environmental necessities” (p. 51). While the auction house plays the role of place, also found a location and item that illustrates the principal of products linking participants to a interaction as part of a community.



To be continued next week…

Copyright 2001 Michael Shead

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