Ritual, Embodiment and the Paradox of Doing the Laundry
Keywords:Paradox, ritual, embodiment, agency, subjectivity, materiality
Paradox often provides a starting point for cultural analysis of consumer behavior. The paradox of the laundry in which mothers find the laundry a boring and repetitive task yet hesitate to relinquish the chore to others is examined through the embodied experience of women’s laundry rituals. Performance of the ritual generates feelings of competence in cleaning clothes to an absolute standard of cleanliness and feelings of caring, nurturance and love of family. For mothers, the ritual goal of cultivating subjectivity in children about presentation of self to the world depends on drawers full of clean clothes. Laundry rituals are transformative because they ignite and renew emotions relating to a perceived parental role. This article discusses implementation of anthropological practice in terms of incorporating ethnographic research findings into advertising communications. In the implementation process, agency is key in bridging discourse of mothers and discourse of advertising and in producing culture.
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