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Celebrating the Family: Ethnicity, Consumer Culture, and Family Rituals

Celebrating the Family: Ethnicity, Consumer Culture, and Family Rituals

From Library Journal

This work is the fascinating of the changes in holiday customs in our multi-cultural, socially, economically, and technologically evolving American environment over (roughly) the past two centuries. "In colonial America, derived from the Protestant Reformation," and festivals spawned carnivalesque, often bawdy group celebrations. Over time, with the rise of a middle class, these gradually evolved into family-based and family-oriented, sentimentalized ceremonies with ritual in both religious and secular contexts. Later, as a multicultural America and its institutions wrestled with gender and ethnic identity and equity issues, the potent growth of a strongly consumer-oriented economy generated further changes. Conspicuous commercialism came to overshadow reverence and sentiment, as decor, gifts, flowers, and message cards became raisons d' tre at ceremonies in the current postsentimental culture. Pleck (History, Univ. of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign) sees an eclectic American society that is still in flux and continuing to shape and reshape the social content of our myriad and various celebrations. Strongly recommended for academic and public audiences.DSuzanne W. Wood, SUNY Coll. of Technology (Emerita), Alfred
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.


Holidays and other family functions have slowly over the past few hundred years become romanticized and commercialized by popular American culture. Pleck, a professor of History at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, has dissected the various common rituals associated with many Holidays and other family gathering events...This book is not only an eye-opening look at the characteristics of traditional rituals but also an insight into ourselves.


"A very enjoyable, provocative, and scholarly sound book. Celebrating the Family is significant, thorough, and eminently readable. Pleck is especially interested in the way that celebrations have been transformed from 'carnivalesque' qualities, involving various types of social inversion and disorder, into 'domestic' rituals that reinforce women's roles and child-centeredness. She treats each holiday and ritual with impressive sensitivity. She acknowledges the 'dark side,' the social critiques of various celebrations and understands the effects have had on those at the margin of the family--single people, gay people, and others not completely accepted into a family--and those who lacked resources to partake of socially constructed celebrations. Pleck's book will have a major impact. It represents social at its best. It is thoroughly researched, ahead of more than reflective of recent scholarship, and clearly articulated.
--Howard P. Chudacoff, Brown University

About the Author

Elizabeth Pleck is Associate Professor of History, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and the author of Domestic Tyranny: The Making of against from Colonial Times to the Present.

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