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We introduce the concept of the epistemic consumption object. Such consumption objects are characterized by two interrelated features. First, epistemic consumption objects reveal themselves progressively through interaction, observation, use, examination, and evaluation. Such layered revelation is accompanied by an increasing rather than a decline of the object’s complexity. Second, such objects demonstrate a propensity to change their “face‐in‐action” vis‐à‐vis consumers through the continuous addition or subtraction of properties. The epistemic consumption object is materially elusive and this lack of ontological stability turns the object into a continuous knowledge project for consumers. Via this ongoing cycle of revelation and discovery, consumers become attached to the object in intimate and quasi‐social ways. Therefore, the concept of the epistemic consumption object brings the “object” directly into theorizations of consumer‐object relations, extending current theories of relationship, product involvement, and consumption communities. We draw from research with individual online investors to illustrate the theory of the epistemic consumption object.

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This is an Author's Accepted Manuscript of an article published in Consumption, Markets & Culture, volume 9, number 1 (2006), copyright Taylor & Francis, available online at: