The Honeymoon As Romantic Consumption
In contrast with traditional sources of identity formation, such as community, family, or national origin, postindustrial identity largely is recognized through commodity choices (Shields 1992). The honeymoon is a cultural production of consumption that expands on modern beliefs in romance (Bulcroft, Smeins, and Bulcroft 1999). Romance is believed to be real, and it is made tangible when couples in everyday life stimulate their personal relationships with rituals in which commodities construct their romance. Flowers, champagne, and candlelight dinners, for example, are becoming universal props for constructing romance (Illouz 1997). The honeymoon comprises an accumulation of these symbolic ingredients and activities over an extended period of time in a tourist setting. Belief in romance is internationally produced in movies and other contemporary media, and the notion of a honeymoon as the occasion for experiencing it intensely is promoted similarly, and especially through advertising. The joining of beliefs in romance, identity through consumption, and an aggressive travel industry has rendered the honeymoon as a social norm not only for heterosexual couples who marry for the first time. Honeymoons mark subsequent marriages, and second honeymoons within marriages are taken to revive remembered romance. Gay and lesbian couples who formalize their unions also plan romantic honeymoons, and many travel agencies, hotels and cruise lines offer specialized packages for them.
The forces of globalization have reduced cultural specificity in honeymoon practices and amplified tendencies toward travel and romantic consumption across cultures. Thus, the study of the honeymoon is better framed in terms of its transmission and assimilation across cultures, rather than looking at cross-cultural differences in the practice of the honeymoon. The mass-marketing of the honeymoon through popular press and visual media has resulted in honeymoon imperialism or the wholesale adoption of the ritual on a global scale. The way in which the honeymoon is practiced today in Japan, Argentina, South Africa, or any other postindustrial nation reflects the standards as practiced in North America.
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