Legitimacy and the Cultural Diffusion of Casino Gambling, 1976-2006

Ashlee Humphreys, Northwestern University, USA
This paper will examine the legitimation of consumption practices using the case of casino gambling. While previous work on legitimation has focused on direct company-to-consumer legitimation, I show how the process of legitimation is mediated through institutional structures such as newspapers. By analyzing newspaper coverage of casino industry expansion over thirty years, I find four semantic concepts—purity, filth, wealth, and poverty—that orient discourse about casino gambling and are mobilized as resources to argue for the legitimation or delegitimation of casino gambling. Further, I explore the ways in which these concepts are linked by narrative structures and become synthesized as structural change occurs in political and commercial institutions. Conceptually, these semantic networks are important because they unite multiple levels of analysis, from individual conceptualizations of casino gambling to social and regulatory structures such as behavioral norms and state laws. Understanding these multiple levels can enrich our understanding of structural influences on consumer behavior.
[ to cite ]:
Ashlee Humphreys (2009) ,"Legitimacy and the Cultural Diffusion of Casino Gambling, 1976-2006", in NA - Advances in Consumer Research Volume 36, eds. Ann L. McGill and Sharon Shavitt, Duluth, MN : Association for Consumer Research, Pages: 135-138.