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Making Magic: Fetishes in Contemporary Consumption

Karen V. Fernandez and John L. Lastovicka
Journal of Consumer Research
Vol. 38, No. 2 (August 2011), pp. 278-299
Published by: Oxford University Press
DOI: 10.1086/659079
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.1086/659079
Page Count: 22
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Making Magic: Fetishes in Contemporary Consumption
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Abstract

Fetishes—magical objects of extraordinary empowerment and influence—are often sought by consumers for their value as usable objects. Our interpretive research extends the current static perspective of fetishes by proposing a dynamic cyclical model of fetishization appropriate to an age of mass production. Consumers use contagious and imitative magic to imbue replica instruments with power. Semiotically signified magical thinking causes replicas to radiate aura and thus transforms them into fetishes. We suggest that although all replicas with aura become fetishes, the cyclical fetishization process is only perpetuated when empowerment is public, sustained, and authentic.

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