Children’s consumption culture development through Christmas myths: ethical implications

M.K.J. Waiguny, A.-M. Kennedy, M.A. Lockie

Publikation: Beitrag in FachzeitschriftArtikelBegutachtung


Purpose: This paper seeks to explore the functions of Christmas mythemes for children’s consumption culture development. In addition, the purpose of this study is to provide an insight on the development of Central European Children into customers and how mythemes are associated with the wishing behaviour. Design/methodology/approach: Levi-Strauss’ (1955) structural analysis was used to uncover the mythemes of the Christmas story for Austrian children. These mythemes then informed a thematic analysis of 283 Austrian children’s Christmas letters. Campbell’s (1970) functions of myths were used to reflect on the findings. Findings: The Christmas mythemes uncovered were found to encourage materialism by linking self-enhancement (good acquirement) with self-transcendent (good behaviour) values. The role of myths to relieve the tension between the incongruent values of collective/other-oriented and materialistic values is expanded upon. Such sanctification of selfish good acquisition is aided by the mythemes related especially to the Christkind and baby Jesus. Instead, marketers should use Christmas mythemes which emphasise family and collective/other-centred values. Originality/value: By first uncovering the “mythemes” related to Christmas, the authors contribute to the academic understanding of Christmas, going beyond origin or single myth understandings and acknowledging the multifaceted components of Christmas. The second contribution is in exploring mytheme’s representation in children’s Christmas letters and reflecting on their functions. This differs from previous literature because it looks at one of the main cultural vehicles for Christmas socialisation and its intersection with the mythemes that feed children’s consumption culture formation. Through the authors’ presentation of a conceptual framework that links mytheme functions with proximal processes using a socioecological viewpoint, the authors demonstrate the guidance of mythemes in children’s development. The third contribution is a reflection on the potential ethical implications for children’s formation of their consumer culture based on the functions of the mythemes. Furthermore, the authors add to the existing body of research by investigating a Central European context. © 2021, Ann-Marie Kennedy, Martin K.J. Waiguny and Maree Alice Lockie.
Seiten (von - bis)321-343
FachzeitschriftYoung Consumers
PublikationsstatusVeröffentlicht - Mai 2021


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