Consumer holiday structure: an analysis of Christian holiday patterns and consumer ritual practice in America
Cassell, Basil Rogers
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This thesis explores the rituals that reinforce American capitalist consumerism, specifically focusing on the Christian holiday calendar structure. Major Christian holidays are viewed as complex sets and repeated patterns, involving inversions and binary oppositions. A structuralist analysis is applied to explore the role of Black Friday as a new consumer holiday in a larger symbol set--one that reveals the reinforcement of underlying values and practices of consumerism. The structural comparison of the meaning of Fat Tuesday and Ash Wednesday as the inauguration of Lent as a season of non-consumption is compared to Thanksgiving and Black Friday as the inauguration of a season of consumption and shopping during Advent. Seen from a structural viewpoint, new consumer holidays take prominence in practice, re-defining seasons in relation to consumption, that previously had been defined by civil religious structure and meaning. The re-definition of civil religion as consumer civil religion, and implications for related social theories are discussed.
Table of Contents
The complex relationship between Christianity and consumerism in North America -- A consumer holiday structural pattern -- Black Friday: its rise, appeal, and religious practice -- Conclusions