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“We Gather Together”: Consumption Rituals of Thanksgiving Day

“We Gather Together”: Consumption Rituals of Thanksgiving Day Abstract Thanksgiving Day is a collective ritual that celebrates material abundance enacted through feasting. Thanksgiving Day both marks and proves to participants their ability to meet basic needs abundantly through consumption. So certain is material plenty for most U.S. citizens that this annual celebration is taken for granted by participants. Not just a moment of bounty but a culture of enduring abundance is celebrated. This article draws on ten data sets compiled over a five-year period. We interpret the consumption rituals of Thanksgiving Day as a discourse among consumers about the categories and principles that underlie American consumer culture. That is, Thanksgiving Day is read as an enacted document orchestrated symbolically and semiotically through consumption. The cultural discourse of Thanksgiving Day negotiates meanings and issues in both the domestic and national arenas that are difficult for many to acknowledge, articulate, and debate verbally. Through the use of multiple perspectives and sources of data, we attempt to elucidate both the emic and etic meanings of this holiday. This content is only available as a PDF. Author notes * Melanie Wallendorf is associate professor, Department of Marketing, College of Business and Public Administration, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ 85721. Eric Arnould is assistant professor, Department of Anthropology and Sociology, University of Colorado at Denver, Denver, CO 80204. The authors thank Helen Anderson, Ann Carl, Bob Kafes, Jane Courtland, Deb Heisley, Sheldon Fishman, Marjorie Lyles, Grant McCracken, Heather McManus, Gayathri Mani, Bob Netting, Lisa Penaloza, Dennis Rook, John Sherry, David Snow, and Jerry Zaltman for their generous insights and helpful comments on earlier portions and presentations of this work. The authors would most especially like to thank their 100 junior collaborators, who were students in Professor Wallendorf's marketing research classes in the fall term of 1988. Their openness, eagerness to learn, and hard work made it possible to study Thanksgiving Day celebrations in situ. © 1991 by JOURNAL OF CONSUMER RESEARCH, Inc. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Journal of Consumer Research Oxford University Press

“We Gather Together”: Consumption Rituals of Thanksgiving Day

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References (39)

Publisher
Oxford University Press
Copyright
© 1991 by JOURNAL OF CONSUMER RESEARCH, Inc.
ISSN
0093-5301
eISSN
1537-5277
DOI
10.1086/209237
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

Abstract Thanksgiving Day is a collective ritual that celebrates material abundance enacted through feasting. Thanksgiving Day both marks and proves to participants their ability to meet basic needs abundantly through consumption. So certain is material plenty for most U.S. citizens that this annual celebration is taken for granted by participants. Not just a moment of bounty but a culture of enduring abundance is celebrated. This article draws on ten data sets compiled over a five-year period. We interpret the consumption rituals of Thanksgiving Day as a discourse among consumers about the categories and principles that underlie American consumer culture. That is, Thanksgiving Day is read as an enacted document orchestrated symbolically and semiotically through consumption. The cultural discourse of Thanksgiving Day negotiates meanings and issues in both the domestic and national arenas that are difficult for many to acknowledge, articulate, and debate verbally. Through the use of multiple perspectives and sources of data, we attempt to elucidate both the emic and etic meanings of this holiday. This content is only available as a PDF. Author notes * Melanie Wallendorf is associate professor, Department of Marketing, College of Business and Public Administration, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ 85721. Eric Arnould is assistant professor, Department of Anthropology and Sociology, University of Colorado at Denver, Denver, CO 80204. The authors thank Helen Anderson, Ann Carl, Bob Kafes, Jane Courtland, Deb Heisley, Sheldon Fishman, Marjorie Lyles, Grant McCracken, Heather McManus, Gayathri Mani, Bob Netting, Lisa Penaloza, Dennis Rook, John Sherry, David Snow, and Jerry Zaltman for their generous insights and helpful comments on earlier portions and presentations of this work. The authors would most especially like to thank their 100 junior collaborators, who were students in Professor Wallendorf's marketing research classes in the fall term of 1988. Their openness, eagerness to learn, and hard work made it possible to study Thanksgiving Day celebrations in situ. © 1991 by JOURNAL OF CONSUMER RESEARCH, Inc.

Journal

Journal of Consumer ResearchOxford University Press

Published: Jun 1, 1991

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