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Purifying Practices: How Consumers Assemble Romantic Experiences of Nature

Robin Canniford and Avi Shankar
Journal of Consumer Research
Vol. 39, No. 5 (February 2013), pp. 1051-1069
Published by: Oxford University Press
DOI: 10.1086/667202
Stable URL:
Page Count: 19
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Purifying Practices: How Consumers Assemble Romantic Experiences of
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Prior consumer research theorizes nature as an ideal stage for romantic consumption experiences by framing nature as external to culture. The same studies, however, problematize this framing by highlighting the consumer-cultural resources through which nature is harnessed and interpreted. Through an ethnography of surfing culture, this article theorizes consumers’ experiences of nature as emerging from assemblages of heterogeneous resources. A theory of assemblage shows that material geographies are vital to the reproduction of romantic discourses. Assemblages of nature are characterized by fragility and contestation, however, due to service structures, technological resources, and social tensions that betray the ideal of external nature. Consumers overcome these contradictions through purifying practices. Purifying practices preserve romantic beliefs that nature is external to culture by masking or purging problematic elements of assemblages. The negative environmental effects of these practices are discussed and compared with sustainable purifying practices that redress the damaging impact of consuming nature.

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