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The Role of Products as Social Stimuli: A Symbolic Interactionism Perspective

Michael R. Solomon
Journal of Consumer Research
Vol. 10, No. 3 (Dec., 1983), pp. 319-329
Published by: Oxford University Press
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2488804
Page Count: 11
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The Role of Products as Social Stimuli: A Symbolic Interactionism Perspective
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Abstract

Most empirical work on product symbolism has paid relatively little attention to how products are used by consumers in everyday social life. This paper argues that the subjective experience imparted by the consumption of many products substantially contributes to the consumer's structuring of social reality, self-concept, and behavior. Moreover, the consumer often relies upon the social meanings inherent in products as a guide to the performance of social roles, especially when role demands are novel. While marketing theory traditionally views products as post hoc responses to underlying needs, the focus here is on conditions under which products serve as a priori stimuli to behavior. By integrating concepts adapted from symbolic interactionism, this approach stresses the importance of product symbolism as a mediator of self-definition and role performance.

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