How do people communicate their romantic feelings? Gift giving is one way. Giving and receiving of gifts is a characteristic of intimate relationships. Gifts are a message, a form of communication with a tangible material object, about love, affection, or concern for the recipient. The "romantic gift" evokes a multitude of intertwined meanings: passion, intimacy, affection, persuasion, care, celebration, altruism, and nostalgia. They can also connote the negative images of obligation and reciprocity. Romantic gift giving may be practiced at rituals, during rites of passage, or for casual occasions, to affirm the continued importance of the romantic relationship. We may even romanticize the giving of gifts to the self, to nonhuman companions, and to others we do not know personally. If loving and giving are a practice, then romantic gift giving is a practice of loving with intimate—or would-be intimate—others.
This book addresses gift giving among consumers attempting to express and construct romantic love. It lies at the intersection of consumption, markets, and culture. In societies shaped by the globalizing neo-liberal economic order, increasing wealth disparity, and a partially digitized social environment that they help to co-construct, it may be time to rethink romantic love. Gift giving is a key arena to do so, as gifts make love tangible and act as carriers of meaning as well as cultural symbols.
In gift giving the meanings of romance are renewed, renegotiated, and reconstructed. Gifts, Romance, And Consumer Culture demonstrates a wide variety of scholarly work bearing on romantic gift giving using an interpretive consumer research perspective. The book introduces critical studies by scholars in this unfolding and new interdisciplinary field.
List of Tables and Figures
Part I Overview
1. Romantic Gift Giving and Consumer Culture: An Introduction Yuko Minowa and Russell W. Belk
PART II Romantic Gift Giving: The Nature of Love
2. Are We a Match? Perfect Gifts, Romantic Love, and Living Organ Donation Tonya Williams Bradford
3. Romantic Gift Giving of Mature Consumers: A Storgic Love Paradigm Yuko Minowa and Russell W. Belk
4. Surprise in Romantic Self Gifts Aditya Gupta and James Gentry
PART III Romantic Gift Giving: Exchange and Reciprocity
5. Practicing Masculinity and Reciprocation through Gendered Gift Giving: White Day in Japan Yuko Minowa, Russell W. Belk, and Takeshi Matsui
6. The Lover and the Saviour: Gift Giving within Mother-Daughter Dyads Chihling Liu, Xin Zhao, and Margaret Hogg
7. Crunch My Heart! It Falls for You: Re-theorizing Chocolate Gift Giving as Carnal-Singularity across Language Context Marjaana Mäkelä, Shona Bettany, and Lorna Stevens
PART IV Romantic Gift Giving: Unselfishness and Self-Interest
8. Giving Credit to the Poor: Romanticizing Money, Capital and Credit Domen Bajde
9. Why do I Self-gift? Self-Gifts as Romantic Gifts to Cope with Struggles Saori Kanno and Satoko Suzuki
PART V Conclusion
10. Four Poems on Gifts John F. Sherry, Jr.