Consumption Rituals


Rutgers University–Camden, US


University of Illinois, USA

DOI: 10.1002/9781118989463.wbeccs072

Consumption rituals are performative events that are often planned, repeated over time within a social group or culture, and characterized by intensive use of goods and services. Drawing on research in sociology and anthropology, Rook (1985) explicates the concept of ritualistic consumption and its structural elements: ritual scripts, performance roles, audience, and artifacts. Ritual scripts provide normative guidelines pertaining to an occasion's storyline and expected performances of the main protagonist(s) and observers. Ritual artifacts are objects imbued with symbolic and even sacred meaning, and are often excluded from everyday consumption.

For example, a holiday celebration such as Christmas or Diwali is a consumption ritual because it commemorates an important cultural time; includes people who are typically not present at everyday gatherings; features foods, objects, and activities reserved for the occasion; and involves performance roles distinct from everyday actions. Social and cultural meaning making occurs through the performance of consumption rituals and can transform people's identities as they portray key roles, particularly those associated with rites of passage (e.g., Latin American Quinceañera celebrations which symbolize the transition from child to young woman; Ghanaian funeral practices which offer the living and ...

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