This study seeks to further understanding of spectator consumption practices by applying modern consumer theory in a much different historical context: the gladiator games during the time of the Roman Empire. The objective is to validate modern ideas of consumption practices with evidence from the past.
The research draws from a sampling of classical and contemporary literatures as well as the interpretation of the images and inscriptions delineated on archaeological artifacts such as relief sculptures on sarcophagi, floor mosaics, fresco paintings, and terracotta and glass lamps. The visual content and consumption themes of selected objects are described and analyzed.
Spectators at the Roman games used these events for the sake of the experience, for integrating themselves into their community, for classifying themselves in a certain group category, and for interacting and socializing with other people. As in modern sporting events, consuming the Roman games served both instrumental and autotelic purposes for spectators. The games were directly an object of consumption as well as the focal resource of interpersonal communications.
The set of visual data sources is small and the literary evidence is in translation of the original sources.
The research shows that Holt's typology of sports consumer practices is supported by evidence from a much different time and context. Thus, the theory provides a robust framework for analysing consumer practices and rituals.
Minowa, Y. and Witkowski, T. (2012), "Spectator consumption practices at the Roman games", Journal of Historical Research in Marketing, Vol. 4 No. 4, pp. 510-531. https://doi.org/10.1108/17557501211281851Download as .RIS
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