Race, Place, and Consumption: the Role of Urban Gardening in the Construction of African American Identity and Community on the West Side of Chicago

Laura Oswald, Essec Business School B Paris
EXTENDED ABSTRACT - An underlying assumption of the interpretive research paradigm is that consumer goods have a symbolic dimension inasmuch as they satisfy emotional and social needs of consumers. Goods can be used to express personal taste and status, or smooth the way from one life stage to another. (Douglas/Isherwood, 1976, Belk, 1988, McCracken, 1990, Sherry, 1998). Goods can also symbolize shared meanings and group identification, the way colors, hand signals, and ritual behavior grant a sense of belonging to groups as disparate as sports teams and street gangs. Public spaces, from parks and gardens to public landmarks and artwork play a similar role in the lives of consumers, inasmuch as they strike a chord in the popular unconscious and link the private self to the needs and aspirations of the group. (Belk, 1988, p.153, Sherry, 1998, 111-112). As Belk observes, Ashared consumption sites@ are fertile ground for fostering group identity and the call to social action: ARecognition that a part of one’s extended self can be shared, or at least perceived to be shared, with others helps to explain acts of civic responsibility, patriotism and charity.@ (Belk, 1988, p.158)
[ to cite ]:
Laura Oswald (2005) ,"Race, Place, and Consumption: the Role of Urban Gardening in the Construction of African American Identity and Community on the West Side of Chicago", in NA - Advances in Consumer Research Volume 32, eds. Geeta Menon and Akshay R. Rao, Duluth, MN : Association for Consumer Research, Pages: 406-407.