Proximal and contagious indexicality: Unpacking the meanings of celebrity-owned objects

John L. Lastovicka, Chadwick J. Miller

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

2 Scopus citations

Abstract

Purpose: We examine the meanings of objects that have indexical (or direct first-hand) connections to celebrities. In so doing, we distinguish between the meanings of proximal indexicality versus contagious indexicality. We reveal how these disparate meanings are linked to how consumers use a celebrity object, either by displaying the object or by using the object as the celebrity had originally used the object. Methodology: Our informants were consumers participating in sales of celebrity-owned items. Data include videotaped depth interviews, photographs of auction participants and celebrity objects, field notes, and auction catalogue descriptions. Findings: Some consumers were fans who desired to be close to the celebrity, while others participating in celebrity-object auctions desired to become a celebrity themselves. Those that desired to be close to the celebrity (fans) were attracted to the proximal indexical meaning of the object, in which an indexical link conveyed a perceived closeness between the perceiver and the signified (e.g., consumer and celebrity) through the indexically linked object. Those that desired to become a celebrity themselves were attracted to the contagious indexical meaning of the object which facilitates a perceived contamination of the perceiver (e.g., consumer) by the essence of the signified (e.g., celebrity) through the indexically linked object. Contributions: We contribute to the Peircian semiotic framework as used in consumer research by differentiating between the meanings of proximal indexicality and contagious indexicality. We show these meanings are linked to consumers' display use versus the original use of the celebrity-owned object.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationResearch in Consumer Behavior
EditorsRussell Belk, Soren Askegaard, Linda Scott
Pages317-332
Number of pages16
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 1 2012

Publication series

NameResearch in Consumer Behavior
Volume14
ISSN (Print)0885-2111

Keywords

  • Celebrity
  • Contagious
  • Indexical
  • Meanings
  • Obsessions
  • Proximal

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Business, Management and Accounting (miscellaneous)
  • Marketing

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    Lastovicka, J. L., & Miller, C. J. (2012). Proximal and contagious indexicality: Unpacking the meanings of celebrity-owned objects. In R. Belk, S. Askegaard, & L. Scott (Eds.), Research in Consumer Behavior (pp. 317-332). (Research in Consumer Behavior; Vol. 14). https://doi.org/10.1108/S0885-2111(2012)0000014020