Consumption and the Meaning of Life

Research in Consumer Behavior

ISBN: 0-7623-1304-8, eISBN: 978-1-84855-985-1

ISSN: 0885-2111

Publication date: 11 July 2006


Through an analysis of data from depth interviews with modern American consumers, we examine whether and how individuals quest for life's meaning through consumption. Our analysis identifies three worldviews that are differently related to the experience of transcendence through consumption. A rationalist worldview is revealed as being unrelated to such a pursuit. It contrasts two magical worldviews held by most informants in which consumption objects are infused with supernatural and metaphysical beliefs that animate life's meaning for them. Our discussion highlights how recognition of magical worldviews contributes to consumer theory, methods, and concepts of investigation.


Tian, K. and Belk, R. (2006), "Consumption and the Meaning of Life", Belk, R.W. (Ed.) Research in Consumer Behavior (Research in Consumer Behavior, Vol. 10), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 249-274.

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