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Utopian Enterprise: Articulating the Meanings of Star Trek’s Culture of Consumption

Robert V. Kozinets
Journal of Consumer Research
Vol. 28, No. 1 (June 2001), pp. 67-88
Published by: Oxford University Press
DOI: 10.1086/321948
Stable URL:
Page Count: 22
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Utopian Enterprise: Articulating the Meanings of Star Trek’s Culture of Consumption
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In this article, I examine the cultural and subcultural construction of consumption meanings and practices as they are negotiated from mass media images and objects. Field notes and artifacts from 20 months of fieldwork at Star Trek fan clubs, at conventions, and in Internet groups, and 67 interviews with Star Trek fans are used as data. Star Trek’s subculture of consumption is found to be constructed as a powerful utopian refuge. Stigma, social situation, and the need for legitimacy shape the diverse subcultures’ consumption meanings and practices. Legitimizing articulations of Star Trek as a religion or myth underscore fans’ heavy investment of self in the text. These sacralizing articulations are used to distance the text from its superficial status as a commercial product. The findings emphasize and describe how consumption often fulfills the contemporary hunger for a conceptual space in which to construct a sense of self and what matters in life. They also reveal broader cultural tensions between the affective investments people make in consumption objects and the encroachment of commercialization.

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