Cele C. Otnes
University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign
Tina M. Lowrey
University of Texas at San Antonio
How many consumption rituals have you found yourself engaged in, or have engaged you, in the past few months? As we were preparing this introduction, Cele was looking forward to attending the wedding of a colleague, and had bought a gift, made the necessary beautification appointments, and was following the reception plans with interest. Just 2 weeks before, she had hosted a “Hello Kitty” birthday party for her 8–year-old daughter, complete with the requisite cake and candles, party horns, gifts, birthday song, matching table settings, and goodie bags (which seem to get more elaborate every year). At around the same time, Tina was involved in the emotionally and physically arduous ritual of moving and reestablishing a household (see Marcoux, chap. 12) and in the upcoming months would be socialized with regard to the inner workings of gift giving and other workplace rituals at her new job (see Ruth, chap. 9).
Even during the relatively “down” time of summer (at least for academics), there is no escaping ritual participation. Nor do people necessarily (always) want to escape the family reunions (or even the ones created by commercial interests such as Saturn), birthdays, graduations, weddings, and seasonal holidays that give our lives structure, provide us with a sense of community, and even transform our lives with defining, memorable moments (Driver, 1991). As Rook (1985) demonstrated in his seminal article on ritualistic consumption-and as he echoes in the concluding chapter of this book-the use of products and services in activities that are expressive, symbolic, dramatically scripted, and performed with formality, seriousness, and inner intensity is an exciting and challenging topic through which to study the intersection of consumption, collectivity, and culture.
Rook's (1985) work and the countless others that have been published or presented in consumer behavior outlets notwithstanding, it is unfortunate that whereas marketing scholars have often chosen to integrate the literature on con-