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.
Table of Contents
Yuko Minowa and Russell W. Belk
Romantic Gift Giving: The Nature of Love
2 Are we a perfect match? Roles for market mediators in defining perfect gifts
Tonya Williams Bradford
3 Romantic gift giving of mature consumers: A storgic love paradigm
Yuko Minowa and Russell W. Belk
4 If you love me, surprise me
Aditya Gupta and James W. Gentry
5 Characteristics and meanings of good and bad romantic gifts across cultures:
A recipient’s perspective
Sydney Chinchanachokchai and Theeranuch Pusaksrikit
Romantic Gift Giving Contexts
6 Practicing masculinity and reciprocation in gendered gift-giving rituals:
White Day in Japan, 1980-2009
Yuko Minowa, Russell W. Belk, and Takeshi Matsui
7 Romantic gifts as an expression of masculinity amongst
young men with disabilities in Zimbabwe
8 Gift giving within adult daughter-mother dyads
Chihling Liu, Xin Zhao, and Margaret K. Hogg
9 Crunch my heart! It falls for you:
Carnal-singularity and chocolate gift-giving across language contexts
Marjaana Mäkelä, Shona Bettany, and Lorna Stevens
Romantic Gift Giving: Unselfishness and Self-Interest
10 Romantic potential of money: When credit becomes a gift
Domen Bajde and Pilar Rojas Gavria
11 From strangers to family: How material and non-material gift giving
strategies create agapic relationships over time
12 Romantic self-gifts to "hidden true self": Self-gifting and multiple selves
Saori Kanno and Satoko Suzuki
13 For you and for me: Creative experiences as gifts
Eirini Koronaki, Antigone G. Kyrousi, and Athina Y. Zotou
14 Reflections on romantic gift exchange: An intersectional conversation
Cele C. Otnes and Robert Alfonso Arias
15 Four Gift Poems
John F. Sherry, Jr.
Yuko Minowa is a Professor of Marketing at Long Island University, USA.
Russell W. Belk is a Professor of Marketing at Schulich School of Business, York University, Canada.