Consumer-driven memorialization

Anderson, Stephanie and Hamilton, Kathy (2024) Consumer-driven memorialization. Journal of Consumer Research, 50 (5). pp. 985-1007. ISSN 1537-5277 (

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Consumer research has focused on market-mediated efforts to memorialize the past, but this overshadows the issues that arise when consumers, as non-professionals, make the past consumable. Consumer-driven memorialization is defined as consumer engagement with traces of the past in memoryscapes of low market-mediation that creates a complex interplay of remembering and forgetting. Based on an ethnographic study of urban exploration, we theorize that consumer-driven memorialization comprises two practices of tracing and trace-making. Tracing involves consumer attempts to recover traces of the past, while trace-making involves consumer attempts to create traces for the future. Consumers enact multiple roles during consumer-driven memorialization: explorers experience the past, archaeologists materialize the past, artists aestheticize the past, and historians narrate the past. The theorization of consumer-driven memorialization offers three contributions. First, the dimensions of consumer-driven memorialization broaden understanding of what constitutes a consumable past in contexts of low market-mediation. Second, we explain how the ideological and material challenges that emerge in consumer-driven memorialization generate a complex interplay between remembering and forgetting. Third, we shed light on how consumer-driven memorialization is inscribed in space.