Essays on Consumer Culture as Witnessed in Christmas Period Coursework

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The paper 'Consumer Culture as Witnessed in Christmas Period" is a perfect example of marketing coursework.   Christmas is one of the few religious rituals that are celebrated across the globe on an annual basis. McKechnie and Tynan (2006, p. 133) note that Today, unlike the past, the ritual is also marked in countries or rather cultures, which never had a Christmas tradition. The meaning of the ritual, over time, has enormous shifted to reflect intensive cult statuses that greatly involve participation by most of the world population. Now, like never before, Christmas is characterised by aspects related to family life, affection for children and, also willingness to support the needy in the societies (Hirschman & LaBarbera, 1989).

The fundamental rite associated with the ritual involves attending the midnight mass on the eve, the early church service on Christmas morning, shopping, gift-giving and charity and all these is intended to eliminate the possibility of anxiety in order to uplift the present while at the same time securing the future (Starr, 2007). The focus of this paper is to try and examine the way such cultural event as Christmas has been linked to consumer culture over time. The ritual associated with Christmas has changed significantly to embrace new and distinct consumer culture.

One of the ways for which the ritual has changed is through the adoption of “ The Christmas Potlatch” (Belk& Bryce, 1993). This activity is characterised by the act of gift-giving between different classes of consumers. A perfect example is seen whenever parents engage in the giving of greater amounts of gifts to their immediate children and vice versa. The aspect is attributed to the principle of asymmetry whereby the society, at large, is also directly engaged in donating such items as money, toys and other necessary gifts to the abandoned children and those belonging to the poor class.

In conducting this exercise, there were intensive propositions made especially in relation to the differences in empowerment that is exercised by the numerous gift-givers (Belk& Bryce, 1993). For instance, the asymmetries in gift-giving nowadays depict the level of differences in social power with economic value of gifts being given to those with enormous social power. It is argued that nowadays, the primary focus of the religious celebration, in general terms, the activities involved with gift-giving rest with reinforcing the aspects related to social solidarity and kinship ties.

The process of receiving and giving gifts, the sharing of the entire festivities season as well as the meals consumed in solidarity propels the formulation and implementation of tangible tines that are able to bind one generation to the next within a given family setting. In his recent research, Belk (1987, p. 91), ascertains that the entire Christmas festival is marred with materialism and hedonistic tendencies.

He argued that given that the ritual treats Santa as being a small god, then in real sense, it is a god of materialism. In essence, both Santa Claus and the corresponding seasonal rituals that encompass the celebration like family feasts, office parties and, also the enormous circulation of such Christmas issues of numerous magazines in the United States of America, postulates the celebration of such attributes as greed, gluttony as well as hedonism. The current American society seems to have reflected a greater length of its values onto Santa Claus (McCracken, 1986).

Of particular interest, Santa Claus is being viewed as a notable symbol of American consumer culture that is making enough efforts to promote aspects related to commercialism as well as materialism in the world over. Through popular media platforms, the American society believes that these values should be replicated in the entire universe as a way of justifying their nature of embracing materialism. To the Americans, Christmas is a secularised celebration event that promotes attributes relating to commercialisation, materialism and hedonism (Berger, 2015).

The fundamental reason for engaging in the event rests with conducting sustaining rituals as a way of promulgating sacredness through intensive consumption processes. It is important to understand that although these values seem to be promulgated by the larger American society, the ritual foundation exercised is deemed to be similar with that of the United Kingdom, which is especially characterised by common gift-giving and excessive gift shopping (Berger, 2015).

References

List

Belk, RW. (1987), "A Child's Christmas in America: Santa Claus as Deity, Consumption as Religion," Journal of American Culture, Spring, 45-99

Belk, R.W & Bryce, W., 1993. Christmas shopping scenes: From modern miracle to postmodern mall. International Journal of Research in Marketing, 10(3), pp.277-296

Berger, A.A., 2015. Ads, fads, and consumer culture: Advertising's impact on American character and society. Rowman & Littlefield.

Freeman, L. & Bell, S., 2013. Women's magazines as facilitators of Christmas rituals. Qualitative Market Research: An International Journal, 16(3), pp.336-354.

Farbotko, C. & Head, L., 2013. Gifts, sustainable consumption and giving up green anxieties at Christmas. Geoforum, 50, pp.88-96.

Hirschmn, EC & LaBarbera, P, A. 1989. The Meaning of Christmas. Interpretive Consumer Research, pp.135-147

Izberk-Bilgin, E., 2015. Rethinking religion and ethnicity at the nexus of globalization and consumer culture. The Routledge Companion to Ethnic Marketing, p.135.

McKechnie, S & Tynan, C. 2006. Social Meanings in Christmas Consumption: An Exploratory Study of UK Celebrants’ Consumption Rituals, Journal of Consumer Behaviour, 5, pp.130-144

McCracken, G., 1986. Culture and consumption: A theoretical account of the structure and movement of the cultural meaning of consumer goods. Journal of consumer research, pp.71-84

Starr, M.A., 2007. Saving, spending, and self-control: Cognition versus consumer culture. Review of Radical Political Economics, 39(2), pp.214-229

Treadwell, J., Briggs, D., Winlow, S. & Hall, S., 2012. Shopocalypse Now Consumer Culture and the English Riots of 2011. British Journal of Criminology, p.azs054

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