Consuming Paradise: a Cultural Construction


Gary J. Bamossy and Janeen Arnold Costa (1998) ,"Consuming Paradise: a Cultural Construction", in E - European Advances in Consumer Research Volume 3, eds. Basil G. Englis and Anna Olofsson, Provo, UT : Association for Consumer Research, Pages: 146.

European Advances in Consumer Research Volume 3, 1998      Page 146


Gary J. Bamossy, Vrije Universiteit, Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Janeen Arnold Costa, University of Utah, U.S.A.

The content and components of ideas of paradise vary from society to society and are, thus, culturally based. To illustrate the cultural specificity of the concept, however, paradise must be analyzed historically and cross-culturally. For this project, data were collected through random sample phone surveys, projective techniques and a supplementary survey concerning concepts of paradise in Dutch and American societies.

Analysis of the primary data reveals both similarities and differences in the Dutch and American concepts of paradise. Respondents in both societies emphasize the experience of paradise, involving individualized qualities and activities and often an idealized state. Both Americans and Dutch also indicated that the paradisal experience would include the presence of family, friends, and significant others with whom important relationships could be pursued. However, the differences between the Dutch and American samples are particularly interesting. The American informants consistently emphasize hedonism, materialism, individuality, creativity, and issues of time and space consistent with a monochronic society. Conversely, the Dutch respondents showed a concern for social responsibility, collective societal order and equality. They also implied a deep element of spirituality. Interestingly, the Dutch respondents often invoked images of work and a balance between work and play as part of paradise.

Thus, despite significant historical and, therefore, cultural similarities, Dutch and American concepts of paradise differ remarkably. In assessing the appropriateness of referring to "paradise" in any marketing activity, this disparity must be considered. Conceptualizations of paradise have implications for consumption, particularly in domains such as travel. Since paradise eludes to a particular ideal state, however, such conceptualizations may also have import with respect to the marketing and consumption of any products which seek to invoke a paradisical state.



Gary J. Bamossy, Vrije Universiteit, Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Janeen Arnold Costa, University of Utah, U.S.A.


E - European Advances in Consumer Research Volume 3 | 1998

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