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Making Magic: Fetishes in Contemporary Consumption

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  • Karen V. Fernandez
  • John L. Lastovicka
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    Abstract

    Fetishes—magical objects of extraordinary empowerment and influence—are often sought by consumers for their value as usable objects. Our interpretive research extends the current static perspective of fetishes by proposing a dynamic cyclical model of fetishization appropriate to an age of mass production. Consumers use contagious and imitative magic to imbue replica instruments with power. Semiotically signified magical thinking causes replicas to radiate aura and thus transforms them into fetishes. We suggest that although all replicas with aura become fetishes, the cyclical fetishization process is only perpetuated when empowerment is public, sustained, and authentic.

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    File URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/pdfplus/10.1086/659079
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    File URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/full/10.1086/659079
    Download Restriction: Access to the online full text or PDF requires a subscription.

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    Bibliographic Info

    Article provided by University of Chicago Press in its journal Journal of Consumer Research.

    Volume (Year): 38 (2011)
    Issue (Month): 2 ()
    Pages: 278 - 299

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    Handle: RePEc:ucp:jconrs:doi:10.1086/659079

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    Web page: http://www.journals.uchicago.edu/JCR/

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    Cited by:
    1. Stefano Pace, 2013. "Does Religion Affect the Materialism of Consumers? An Empirical Investigation of Buddhist Ethics and the Resistance of the Self," Journal of Business Ethics, Springer, vol. 112(1), pages 25-46, January.

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