Death and identity: Consumer behavior in Asante death rituals
Poorer societies have been ignored in scholarly dialogue on consumer behavior and consumption. The globalization of markets and consumption makes it imperative for marketing and consumer researchers to pay attention to these societies. This dissertation, therefore, explored the dynamics of consumer product decisions and how choices are used by the bereaved to negotiate identities for themselves and the deceased among the Asante people of Ghana. The study focused on the increasingly important role of the ritualized consumption of death ritual products among the Asante people of Ghana. West Africa, and examined the socio-cultural sources of influence on death product choices and the use of these products as paths to symbolic self-completion. Situated in the context of death and poverty, the study makes salient some issues of consumption and consumer identity, formation that have hitherto lurked in the background. ^ Long interview data gathered for analysis were interpreted using hermeneutic approaches. Among other things, the study finds a direction of emulative consumption that is contrary to the oft-assumed perspective espoused by Veblen and Campbell. Contrary to these established findings, this study found that it is the poor in Asante who are the novelty-seeking consumers in the context of death rituals. The rich are forced by social circumstances to adapt these novel consumption ideas, and facilitate adoption into the mainstream. The findings suggest that through linkages with performative death rituals, poverty offers many opportunities for the poor in Asante to influence the direction of consumption in their society. ^ The dissertation informs our understanding of consumption in a number of ways. First, it complements existing models of consumer choice by adding a cultural dimension that helps to explain deviations from the socio-psychological, rational expectations of current models. Second, the study demonstrates how consumer identities are continually reinvented through products even after death, thereby extending the symbolic project of the self beyond life (Kastenbaum, Peyton and Kastenbaum 1977). Third, by examining death product decisions and consumer identity in a less affluent society, the study extends our knowledge of marketing and consumer behavior beyond the current research focus on affluent societies. ^
Anthropology, Cultural|Business Administration, Marketing|Sociology, Social Structure and Development
Samuel Kwaku Bonsu,
"Death and identity: Consumer behavior in Asante death rituals"
Dissertations and Master's Theses (Campus Access).