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Shopping for Identity the Marketing of Ethnicity

by Marilyn Halter

  • ISBN: 9780805241563
  • ISBN10: 0805241566

Shopping for Identity the Marketing of Ethnicity

by Marilyn Halter

  • List Price: $23.00
  • Binding: Hardcover
  • Publisher: Random House Inc
  • Publish date: 09/01/2000
  • ISBN: 9780805241563
  • ISBN10: 0805241566
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Description: When salsa outsells ketchup in American supermarkets, you know there's a major cultural shift in the works -- and this is the first book to describe it.

In engaging and briskly un-academic style, Marilyn Halter examines the intersection of two twentieth-century phenomena. One is the growth of the mass American consumer culture that both arose from and nurtured the desire of immigrants for assimilation. The other is the unexpected and even startling revival of ethnic identity that got under way in the 1970s, a development that causes us to perceive ourselves not as assimilated but as "hyphenated" -- American but also African, Asian, Irish, Jewish, Italian, Hispanic, and even Anglo -- there's a label for everybody.

Halter describes, with many an entertaining anecdote and example, where this has led in the process of interaction between consumers and marketers. People seeking to shore up their newly-prized ethnic affiliation go shopping: they buy the foods, the decorative objects, the CDs, even the clothing that will tell the world "We're really from over there". What's more, they go to shows like "Riverdance" and "Mamaloshen", they learn the languages their grandparents spoke, they make pilgrimages to the old country.

Meanwhile, producers and marketers respond to this explosion of interest by tweaking their goods and services to appeal to just such ethnic niches -- and beyond. And as the ethnic market matures, it turns out that you don't, after all, have to be Jewish to love Levy's rye bread -- ethnicity itself is appropriated by the business and turned into a strategy to sell the products and values of one group to everyone in the wider marketplace. Kosher-for-Passover pizza isonly the beginning.

"The Business of Ethnicity" is illustrated with apt and sometimes hilarious examples of the products and ads that feed and feed on this uniquely American hunger.

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