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Emily E. West

Authenticity

Articles 1 - 3 of 3

Full-Text Articles in Gender, Race, Sexuality, and Ethnicity in Communication

A Taste For Greeting Cards: Distinction Within A Denigrated Cultural Form, Emily West Jan 2010

A Taste For Greeting Cards: Distinction Within A Denigrated Cultural Form, Emily West

Emily E. West

Greeting cards are a denigrated product category in the United States, and yet consumers use them at high rates across taste formations. Consumers with relatively high cultural capital place a premium on originality in their self-expression, hence greeting cards present a consumption problem because they are a mode of expressing the self through mass-produced means. Based on interviews with 51 people, I show that consumers with higher cultural capital are more likely to prioritize card design over sentiment; select smaller, simpler designs and sentiments; prefer cards that are handmade, look handmade, or remind them of fine art; and are more ...


Expressing The Self Through Greeting Card Sentiment: Working Theories Of Authentic Communication In A Commercial Form, Emily West Jan 2010

Expressing The Self Through Greeting Card Sentiment: Working Theories Of Authentic Communication In A Commercial Form, Emily West

Emily E. West

As mass produced vehicles of sentiment, greeting cards draw attention to the use of socially constructed codes for communicating, even feeling, emotion. This paper describes the results of interviews with fifty-one greeting card consumers, focusing on what makes greeting cards ‘personal’ for them, despite their mass-produced nature. Consumers negotiate their relationships with pre-printed sentiments differently depending on whether their allegiance is stronger to an expressive individualist understanding of authenticity or a ritual perspective, and these allegiances tend to reflect cultural capital. Specifically, suspicion of pre-printed sentiments is common among people with higher cultural capital, while this is the feature of ...


Mass Producing The Personal: The Greeting Card Industry’S Approach To Commercial Sentiment, Emily West Oct 2008

Mass Producing The Personal: The Greeting Card Industry’S Approach To Commercial Sentiment, Emily West

Emily E. West

The greeting card industry manages the challenge of mass-producing images and texts for use in interpersonal communication through both specific production techniques and narratives that “make sense” of this seemingly paradoxical task. The mass production of the personal is negotiated in the processes of writing sentiments and creating designs, as well as in identifying sending situations for cards. At Hallmark, the approach to creating emotional, relational communication for anonymous others is captured by the phrase “universal specificity,” which suggests that people’s emotions are essentially universal, and that the industry can meet the nation’s social expression needs by customizing ...