Shopping for Identity by Marilyn Halter
The Marketing of Ethnicity

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Synopsis

In America today, you can connect to your ethnic heritage in dozens of ways, or adopt an identity just for an evening. Our society is not a melting pot but a salad bar--a bazaar in which the purveyors of goods and services spend close to $2 billion a year marketing the foods, clothing, objects, vacations, and events that help people express their (and others') ethnic identities. This is a huge business, whose target groups are the "hyphenated Americans"--in other words, all of us.

As immigrant groups gain economic security, they tend to reinforce--not relinquish--their ethnic identification. Marilyn Halter demonstrates that, to a great extent, they do it by shopping. And their purchasing power is enormous. How has the marketplace responded to this hunger? Instantly and wholeheartedly: tweaking old products and inventing new ones; launching new brands in supermarkets, new music groups, vacation itineraries, language courses, toys, greeting cards, et cetera. This nexus of business and ethnicity is already seen as the hottest consumer development of this decade, and Halter is uniquely qualified to describe its origins, the exponential growth of products and advertising, and the phenomenal sales of items from salsa to Chieftains CDs.
She addresses her subject with an abundance of anecdotal evidence, telling examples of ethnic marketing, and interviews with entrepreneurs (many of them immigrants) who are vigorously seizing the opportunities offered by the business of ethnicity.

Shopping for Identity is provocative, intriguing, and farseeing, illuminating an important aspect of our contemporary way of life while validating the yearning we all feel for connection to our roots.


From the Hardcover edition.
 

About Marilyn Halter

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Marilyn Halter, a member of the history department and the American Studies program at Boston University, is also a research associate at Boston University's Institute for the Study of Economic Culture. She is the author of Between Race and Ethnicity and the editor of New Migrants in the Marketplace. She lives in Lakeville, Massachusetts.From the Hardcover edition.
 
Published December 18, 2007 by Schocken. 256 pages
Genres: Business & Economics, Political & Social Sciences, Science & Math. Non-fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for Shopping for Identity

Kirkus Reviews

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She also discusses the recent “silent explosion” in mixed-race people, observing that many Americans are “self-identifying with more than one ethnic group.” Her belief is that the “real trend” in advertising and marketing is toward such “homogenization that racial distinctiveness actually disappe...

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Publishers Weekly

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Black Barbies, a Northwest Orient advertisement urging Irish-Americans to fly to Dublin to find their roots and a Tetley Tea campaign suggesting that American Jews think Yiddish but drink Br

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Publishers Weekly

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distinctive cultures and histories"") spurred the embrace of ethnic identity, Halter also documents that embrace in such fascinating occurrences as an 1895 article, ""The Negro in Advertising,"" which ran in the advertising journal Printer's Ink, and a 1913 Proctor and Gamble campaign for kosher ...

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Project MUSE

Focusing on the more well-established neo-ethnics, "The Romance of Ethnicity" argues that ethnic festivals and tours offer a highly portable "ethnic lite" experience for affluent consumers who want the nostalgia without the full-time commitment of traditional, community-based ethnicity.

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