A Commentary on Contemporary
Dennis W. Rook
University of Southern California
I read the chapters included in this collection with atypical enthusiasm. In selecting which one to read next, I sometimes felt like I was looking at a 2–pound Godiva chocolate sampler. Am I in the mood for binge drinking rituals, or for public disrobement in the streets of New Orleans? Or perhaps a baby shower? This was fun, and it made for several intellectually stimulating days. When I finished reading all the chapters, I came to the following conclusions.
When I completed my reading, my omnibus reaction was “Wow, what an interesting assemblage of material. ” This reaction is similar to the feelings I experienced frequently 20 years ago, when I began working on my dissertation about ritualized consumption under Sidney Levy's guidance. The literature was vast, and spanned the anthropological, sociological, and psychological fields; it also extended far back in time. Ultimately, I discovered that rituals were riveting phenomena, both in their own right, and certainly in comparison to the more narrowly circumscribed information-processing experiments that dominated the consumer research field ated the consumer.
Looking back, it seems odd how frequently I had to defend the relevance of rituals to skeptical scholars. Reading this volume leaves no doubt about the significant social, psychological, and cultural impact of consumption rituals on people's lives, all over the world. The marketplace significance of rituals is also striking. Consumers' participation in holiday, event-driven, familial, religious, workplace, and transition rituals trigger huge expenditures with predictable regularity. But, what would the economy be like without such extensive involvements in ritual-related