File Name: culture and consumption mccracken .zip
Numa sociedade de consumo, o significado cultural se move incessantemente de um ponto para outro.
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Consumer goods have a significance that goes beyond their utilitarian character and commercial value. This significance rests largely in their ability to carry and communicate cultural meaning Douglas and Isherwood ;Sahlins During the last decade, a diverse body of scholars has made the cultural significance of consumer goods the focus of renewed academic study Belk ;Bronner ;Felson ;Furby ;Graumann Graumann Hirschman ;Holman ;Leiss ;Levy ;McCracken c;Prown ;Quimby ;Rodman and Philibert ;Schlereth ;Solomon These scholars have established a subfield extending across the social sciences that now devotes itself with increasing clarity and thoroughness to the study of "person-object" relations.
In this article, I propose to contribute a theoretical perspective to this emerging subfield by showing that the meaning carried by goods has a mobile quality for which prevailing theories make no allowance. A great limitation of present approaches to the study of the cultural meaning of consumer goods is the failure to observe that this meaning is constantly in transit.
Cultural meaning flows continually between its several locations in the social world, aided by the collective and individual efforts of designers, producers, advertisers, and consumers. There is a traditional trajectory to this movement. Usually, cultural meaning is drawn from a culturally constituted world and transferred to a consumer good.
Then the meaning is drawn from the object and transferred to an individual consumer. In other words, cultural meaning is located in three places: the culturally constituted world, the consumer good, and the individual consumer, and moves in a trajectory at two points of transfer: world to good and good to individual.
The Figure summarizes this relationship. In this article I propose to analyze this trajectory of meaning, taking each of its stages in turn. Appreciating the mobile quality of cultural meaning in a consumer society should help to illuminate two aspects of consumption in modern society.
First, such a perspective encourages us to see consumers and consumer goods as the way-stations of meaning. In this manner, we focus on structural and dynamic properties of consumption that have not always been emphasized.
Second, the "trajectory" perspective asks us to see such phenomena as advertising, the fashion world, and consumption rituals as instruments of meaning movement. We are encouraged to acknowledge the presence of a large and powerful system at the heart of modern consumer society that gives this society some of its coherence and flexibility even as it serves as a constant source of incoherence and discontinuity.
In sum, this perspective can help to demonstrate some of the full complexity of current consumption behavior and to reveal in a more detailed way just what it is to be a "consumer society. Culture constitutes the phenomenal world in two ways. First, culture is the "lens" through which the individual views phenomena; as such, it determines how the phenomena will be apprehended and assimilated. Second, culture is the "blueprint" of human activity, determining the co-ordinates of social action and productive activity, and specifying the behaviors and objects that issue from both.
As a lens, culture determines how the world is seen. As a blueprint, it determines how the world will be fashioned by human effort. In short, culture constitutes the world by supplying it with meaning. This meaning can be characterized in terms of two concepts: cultural categories and cultural principles. Cultural CategoriesCultural categories are the fundamental coordinates of meaning McCracken a , representing the basic distinctions that a culture uses to divide up the phenomenal world.
For instance, all cultures specify categories of time. In our culture these categories include an elaborate system that can discriminate units as fine as a "second" and as vast as a "millennium.
Cultures also specify categories of space. In our culture these categories include measurement and "occasion. Perhaps the most important cat-egories are those that cultures create in the human community-the distinctions of class, status, gender, age, and occupation. Cultural categories of time, space, nature, and person make up the vast body of categories, creating a system of distinctions that organizes the phenomenal world.
Each culture establishes its own special vision of the world, thus rendering the understandings and rules appropriate to one cultural context preposterously inappropriate in another. A specific culture makes a privileged set of terms, within which virtually nothing appears alien or unintelligible to the individual member of the culture and outside of which there is no order, no system, no safe assumption, and no ready comprehension.
In sum, by investing the world with its own particular meaning, culture "constitutes" the world. It is from a world so constituted that the meaning destined for consumer goods is drawn. Cultural Categories in Contemporary North AmericaIt is worth noting that cultural categories in present day North America appear to have unique characteristics.
First, they possess an indeterminacy that is not normally evident in other ethnographic circumstances. For instance, cultural categories of person are marked by a persistent and striking lack of clarity, as are cultural categories of age. Second, they possess an apparent "elective" quality.
Devoted as it is to the freedom of the individual, contemporary North American society permits its members to declare at their own discretion the cultural categories they presently occupy. Exercising this freedom, teenagers declare themselves adults, members of the working class declare themselves middle class, the old declare themselves young, and so on. Category membership, which in most cultures is more strictly specified and policed, is in our own society much more a matter of individual choice.
In our culture, individuals are to a great extent what they claim to be, even when these claims are, by some sober sociological reckoning, implausible. We must note a third characteristic of cultural categories in contemporary North America: they are subject to constant and rapid change.
The dynamic quality of present day North American cultural categories plainly adds to their indeterminacy. More important, however, this dynamism also makes our cultural categories subject to the manipulative efforts of the individual. Social groups can seek to change their place in the categorical scheme, while marketers can seek to establish or encourage a new cultural category of person e. Cultural categories in contemporary North America are subject to rethinking and rearrangement by several parties.
The Substantiation of Cultural CategoriesCultural categories are the conceptual grid of a culturally constituted world. They determine how this world will be segmented into discrete, intelligible parcels and how these parcels will be organized into a larger coherent system. For all their importance, however, cultural categories have no substantial presence in the world they organize.
They are the scaffolding on which the world is hung and are therefore invisible. But cultural categories are constantly substantiated by human practice. Acting in conformity with the blueprint of culture, the members of a community are constantly realizing categories in the world. Individuals continually play out categorical distinctions, so that the world they create is made consistent with the world they imagine.
In a sense, the members of a culture are constantly engaged in the construction-the constitution-of the world they live in. One of the most important ways in which cultural categories are substantiated is through a culture's material objects.
As we shall see in a moment, objects are created according to a culture's blueprint and to this extent, objects render the categories of this blueprint material and substantial. Thus, objects contribute to the construction of the culturally constituted world precisely because they are a vital, tangible record of cultural meaning that is otherwise intangible. Indeed, it is not too much to say that objects have a "performative" function Austin ;Tambiah insofar as they give cultural meaning a concreteness for the individual that it would not otherwise have.
The cultural meaning that has organized a world is made a visible, demonstrable part of that world through goods. The process by which a culture makes its cultural categories manifest has been studied in some detail by anthropologists.
Structural anthropology has supplied a theoretical scheme for this study, and several subspecialties, such as the anthropologies of art, clothing, housing, and material culture, have supplied areas of particular investigation.
As a result of this work, there is now a clear theoretical understanding of the way in which linguistic and especially nonlinguistic media express cultural categories Barthes ;deSaussure ;Levi-Strauss , p. There is also a wide range of empirical investigation into the areas of spatial organization Doxtater , house form Bourdieu ;Cunningham , art Fernandez ; Greenberg , clothing Adams ;McCracken ;Schwarz , ornament Drewal , technology Lechtman and Merrill , and food Appadurai ;Douglas ;Ortner This study of material culture has helped to show how the world is furnished with material objects that reflect and contribute to its cultural constitution-how cultural categories are substantiated.
The Substantiation of Cultural Categories in GoodsGoods may be seen as an opportunity to express the categorical scheme established by a culture. Goods are an opportunity to make culture material. Like any other species of material culture, goods allow individuals to discriminate visually among culturally specified categories by encoding these categories in the form of a set of material distinctions.
Categories of person divided into parcels of age, sex, class, and occupation can be represented in a set of material distinctions by means of goods.
Categories of space, time, and occasion can also be reflected in this medium of communication. Goods help substantiate the order of culture. Several studies have examined the way in which goods serve in this substantiation. Sahlins' study of the symbolism of North American consumer goods examines food and clothing "systems" and shows their correspondence to cultural categories of person.
Levy's study of the correspondence between food types and cultural categories of sex and age in American society is another excellent illustration of the way in which one can approach the demographic information carried in goods from a structuralist point of view.
Both of these studies demonstrate that the order of goods is modelled on the order of culture. Both studies also demonstrate that much of the meaning of goods can be traced back to the categories into which a culture segments the world. The substantiation of class categories by consumer goods has been considered by Belk Warner and Lunt The substantiation of gender categories has been less well examined but appears to be drawing more scholarly attention Allison et al. The substantiation of age categories also appears to be receiving more attention Disman ;Olson ;Sherman andNewman ;Unruh Cultural PrinciplesCultural meaning also consists of cultural principles.
In the case of principles, meaning resides in the ideas or values that determine how cultural phenomena are organized, evaluated, and construed. If cultural categories are the result of a culture's segmentation of the world into discrete parcels, cultural principles are the organizing ideas by which the segmentation is performed.
Cultural principles are the charter assumptions that allow all cultural phenomena to be distinguished, ranked, and interrelated. As the orienting ideas for thought and action, cultural principles find expression in every aspect of social life, goods not least of all. Cultural principles, like cultural categories, are substantiated by material culture in general and consumer goods in particular.
Freakonomics, meet brandthropology. In this concise volume a companion to his watershed effort of articulate introspection and insightful ethnographic essays, the author exhorts anthropologists to take back their culture. Culture and Consumption II is well suited for adoption as a supplementary text at any level in courses dealing with material culture or museology. This highly readable volume pairs informal essays with scholarly articles, all providing rich anthropological perspectives on the material elements of everyday life and how people build their identities, experiences, and relationships through them. People turn houses into homes by sheltering themselves with concentric rings of intimacy made of meaningful objects.
The consumerism culture of the symbolic world has influenced relationships in various directions such as social structure and relationship of residents. Jeans are literally goods and represent the structure of identity which is widely interesting. Not only is the context of jeans gradually developed, but also the change in each region to the new circumstance occurs.
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Burridge, and the anonymous reviewers of this Journal. Cultural meaning in a consumer society moves ceaselessly from one location to another. In the usual trajectory, cultural meaning moves first from the culturally constituted world to consumer goods and then from these goods to the individual consumer. Several instruments are responsible for this movement: advertising, the fashion system, and four consumption rituals. This article analyzes the movement of cultural meaning theoretically, showing both where cultural meaning is resident in the contemporary North American consumer system and the means by which this meaning is transferred from one location in this system to another. Oxford University Press is a department of the University of Oxford.
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Culture and Consumption: A Theoretical. Account of the Structure and Movement of the Cultural Meaning of Consumer Goods. GRANT McCRACKEN*. Cultural.
Points out that identifying appropriate market segmentation bases has been a recurrent problem in marketing. Compares the predictive power of income and attitude towards cultural change in the context of luxury goods. The results show that those two indicators are rather independent from each other and contribute almost equally to explaining luxury goods consumption. Dubois, B. Report bugs here. Please share your general feedback.
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