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White Weddings Romancing Heterosexuality in Popular Culture, 2 nd edition by Chrys Ingraham.

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Presentation on theme: "White Weddings Romancing Heterosexuality in Popular Culture, 2 nd edition by Chrys Ingraham."— Presentation transcript:

1 White Weddings Romancing Heterosexuality in Popular Culture, 2 nd edition by Chrys Ingraham

2 The Wedding Industrial Complex Referred to by Wall Street analysts as recession-proof, the wedding industry has reached such proportions that it can be more accurately described as a wedding industrial complex. This structure reflects the close association among weddings, the transnational wedding industry, labor, global economics, marriage, the state, finance, religion, media, the world wide web, and popular culture.

3 The Wedding Industrial Complex Popular Culture Media Religion Marriage State White Weddings The World Wide Web LaborFinance The Transnational Wedding Industry Global Economy

4 The Transnational Wedding Industry Capitalism, by definition, requires expanding markets and cheaper production costs in order to increase profits. To this end, producers must locate new consumers either by creating new desires or by expanding into previously untapped regions or markets. Globalization describes the processes by which production, distribution, and markets have made use of global relationships and resources. What makes the wedding industry transnational? The industry is based in the U.S. but the majority of goods used by the industry are either outsourced to producers in other countries or manufactured by workers and use resources from (mostly developing) countries at a significantly lower cost.

5 The Transnational Wedding Industry These lower costs include: Paying workers substandard wages Child labor Sexual abuse and slavery Exposure to toxins Excessive work hours The consequences of these practices include: Cultural, social, economic, and political changes Changes in migratory patterns resulting from poverty and production changes Increased struggles over immigration and immigration laws

6 The Transnational Wedding Industry According to industry estimates, the average wedding in the United States costs $27,852, with some regional variations. Considered in relation to what Americans earn, the cost of the average wedding represents 62.3 percent of the median earnings of a white family and 92 percent for black and Hispanic families. The fact that 40 percent of Americans earn less than $25,000 per year means the average cost of a wedding approximates a years earnings for many Americans.

7 The Relative Cost of a White Wedding Given the extent to which the wedding industry has become globalized, and that nearly one half of the world lives on $2 per day, consider what else the average cost of a white wedding in the U.S. would buy in those locations where many wedding products are made: WHAT $27,852 WILL BUY WHERE WEDDING PRODUCTS ARE PRODUCED: Food for 3000 people in South Asia. Cost to build 12 wells for people in Southeast Asia, Africa, and Latin America. Medicine for 10,000 children for one year in Africa. At wages of 12 cents per hour to sew wedding gowns, the cost to pay 111 workers for one year. At wages of $28 per week for mining diamonds in South Africa, the cost to pay 19 workers for one year.

8 Targets of the Wedding Industry Who marries? The average age for brides had risen from 20 in 1960 to 25; for grooms from 23 to 26.8 years. (US Census 2000) By 2006, the average age increased to 27 for brides and 29 for grooms. According to the wedding industry, todays newlyweds are also more likely to be dual-earner couples, with 83% of brides and 89% of grooms working with a combined income 1/3 greater than the median household income, at $65,076. The total number of marriages and remarriages declined from 2,342,000 in 1996 to 2,253,750 by 2006, and the marriage rate has decreased from 8.8 to 7.8 per 1000 persons. (Brides 1996; U.S. Bureau of the Census 1996)

9 Targets of the Wedding Industry What is the remarriage market? Includes people who want to reaffirm their vows; Growing population of widowed seniors who are remarrying As of 2005, 50% of all marriages are remarriages for at least one of the participants (CDC, National Vital Statistics Reports, 2003.) Even though remarriage weddings tend to be smaller, the wedding industry estimates that they represent 40%of their revenues

10 Targets of the Wedding Industry The effects of race and class on wedding consumption: Most state and industry analysts have overlooked these effects. They have focused mainly on the white wedding market, especially the middle-to- upper middle class whites. For example, the 78% marriage rate cited in wedding industry and census data is primarily applicable to whites and Asians and is significantly lower for Hispanics (67 percent) and even lower yet for blacks (42 percent).

11 The White Wedding Market Table 2.6 Socioeconomics Factors Median earningsPoverty rates_ College degree BLACK$30, %17.6% HISPANIC$34, %12.1% WHITE$48,9778.6%30.6% ASIAN$57,5189.8%49.4% SOURCE: U.S. Census 2006

12 The White Wedding Market Next, consider our assumptions as Americans about marriage and weddings: 1.We assume that most people not only desire marriage but that most people do, eventually, marry. Fact: the national rate of marriage in the U.S. has declined by about 30% in the past 20 years to 52% of the nation's estimated 106 million households. 2.We assume there are few differences in marriage patterns across race and social class. Fact: As the charts on the previous slides illustrate, there are significant differences across race and social class.

13 Social Inequality and Marriage Marriage frequency drops dramatically as its economic and material benefits decrease. While middle class women no longer need to marry for financial security, poor women do not participate in part because it puts them at greater risk economically.

14 Social Inequality and Weddings Contrasted against the rising expenditures on weddings, it is possible to conclude that the primary target of the wedding industry is people who place higher up on the socioeconomic scale. The lower ones socioeconomic level, the less likely they are to marry and the less they will pay for a wedding. Considering weddings from an economic standpoint, it is possible to conclude that the white wedding industry targets privileged whites more prominently than any other group.

15 Marriage is for white people. The wedding industry and wedding marketers are aware that the combined earnings of black or Hispanic newlyweds is usually significantly lower than those of whites and are likely to remain lower throughout the course of the marriage (which is also shorter). Wedding marketers know that white middle-class women are more likely to consume wedding products than any other group.

16 Marriage is for white people. Even within the advertising industry there is considerable evidence of racial segregation and of institutional racism affecting who is hired and what images and strategies are used in wedding advertising. Throughout the wedding industry, images of white women and couples are pervasive and set both a race and class standard for who marries and who has a white wedding.

17 Same-sex wedding market Significant market forces invested in same-sex marriage debates. The transnational wedding industry, already expanding its global market share, stands to make substantial gains if same-sex marriage becomes legal in the U.S. In California, Massachusetts, Vermont, Canada, England, the Netherlands, and Spain where same-sex marriage is legal, the wedding industry is already reaping benefits.

18 The Future Wedding Market Factors causing changes and increases in the wedding market: Changes in earning potential and buying power of people from historically underrepresented groups. The growth of the internet for advancing the interests of the wedding industry. Increases in transnational consumption and production, especial as a result of the internet and globalization. Destination weddings

19 The Primary Wedding Market There are 3 levels of the transnational wedding market: primary, secondary, and tertiary. The Primary Wedding Market Markets directly to people planning a wedding. With revenues estimated as upwards of $120 billion, the primary wedding market is the equivalent of a major multinational corporation.

20 The Secondary Wedding Market: Businesses interested in developing a future clientele and targeting newlyweds indirectly. Made up of companies using white weddings to sell products indirectly. Examples include everything from life insurance to wedding toys to Viagra. Strategies to secure future wedding product consumption.

21 What has this child learned about beauty?

22 DISNEY When you wish upon a star, makes no difference who you are. When you wish upon a star your dreams come true. (Disney theme song) One of the most dramatic examples in the wedding-industrial complex is the Walt Disney Co. They are involved in both the primary wedding market and secondary wedding market. They play a powerful role in securing future consumers by catering directly to both children and adults through film, television, theme parks, sports franchises, publishing companies, and new interactive media outlets. Disney is the worlds second-largest media conglomerate with annual revenues exceeding $54 billion, 133,000 employees, 10 collective bargaining agreements, 32 unions, and holdings that are extremely diverse.

23 The Tertiary Wedding Market The tertiary wedding market is made up of those companies that have little or no relationship to the wedding market or to newlyweds but make use of wedding imagery and the heterosexual imaginary to capture the imaginations of potential consumers. White weddings appear in a vast array of advertising for products such as Buick, One-A-Day Vitamins, Pepto Bismol, Esteé Lauder perfume, Colgate-Palmolive products, General Electric, McDonalds, Tylenol, Bayer Aspirin, Pepsi, Ford, Chevrolet, Toyota, Verizon, and Midas Muffler, to name a few.

24 The State The state plays a major role in affecting how we think about and engage in the practice of wedding. In regulating marriage materially via civil law, the state injects its presence into the wedding ceremony through licensing practices and fees, establishing who is legally qualified to officiate a wedding, and charges for blood tests and name changes. The state also protects its interests through miscegenation, domestic relations, and other laws regarding what constitutes legitimate marriage.

25 The State The state plays another significant role and one even less obvious than any previously mentioned. Through free trade agreements such as the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) The state creates the conditions by which offshore labor practices are undertaken in the manufacturing of such products as wedding gowns, gifts, and wedding toys. And the state features in the travel industry to the extent that it regulates tourism particularly in conjunction with transnational corporations and national security interests.

26 The State In 1997 the U.S. Congress voted overwhelmingly to pass the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). With this act they changed the role of the federal government in defining marriage as a legal union between one man and one woman as husband and wifeusually a right reserved for statesand prohibited the legalization of same-sex marriage for federal purposes and allowing states to ignore a same-sex marriage from another state.

27 The State Although the marriage contract is governed by state law, the federal government uses marital status as the qualification for more than 1,096 federally registered rights and responsibilities. With the passage of this law, the U.S. government essentially asserted that state and federal rights and responsibilities connected to legal marriage be denied anyone who is not marriedsingles, lesbians, gay men, cohabitating heterosexuals, siblings living together, etc.

28 The State In preparation for passage of this bill, the U.S. Government Accounting Office (GAO) identified all federal laws in which marital status is a factor. They found thirteen categories: Social Security (which includes related programs, housing, and food stamps); veterans benefits; taxation; civilian and military benefits; employment benefits; immigration and naturalization laws; Indians; trade, commerce, and intellectual property; financial disclosure and conflict of interest; crimes and family violence; loans, guarantees, and payments in agriculture; federal natural resources and related laws; and miscellaneous laws. All of these benefits are attached to ones marital status rather than ones citizenship.

29 Religion Religions vary in the meaning they attach to the wedding, but all reserve the right to require certain practices and beliefs regarding the wedding ceremony as well as the institution of marriage. While religions interact with the state in legalizing marriage, their power rests in legitimizing marriage through moral teachings.

30 Religion The wedding becomes a site for the ritual enactment of religious doctrine It shores up the stake the church has in a patriarchal social order and in heterosexual marriage This investment ensures a heterogendered division of labor and womens historical function as the property of men.

31 Mass Media The role of the mass media is primarily ideological and comprised of what sociologist Howard Becker calls consciousness industries. Their task is to provide the public with information and materials that help shape how we view the world, ourselves, and the values we live by. They provide the symbols, myths, images, and ideas by which we constitute dominant culture.

32 Mass Media Mass media are used by the privileged to define or legitimize entitlements by producing certain belief systems, based largely on myths and stereotypes. The staging of weddings in television shows, weekly reporting on weddings in the press, magazine reports on celebrity weddings, advertising, and popular adult and childrens movies with wedding themes or weddings inserted all work together to teach us how to think about weddings, marriage, heterosexuality, race, gender, and labor. Through the application of the heterosexual imaginary, the media cloak most representations of weddings in signifiers of romance, purity, morality, promise, affluence or accumulation, and whiteness.

33 Conclusion The contemporary white wedding under transnational capitalism is, in effect, a mass- marketed, homogeneous, assembly-line production with little resemblance to the utopian vision many participants hold. The engine driving the wedding market has mostly to do with the romancing of heterosexuality in the interests of capitalism. The social relations at stakelove, community, commitment, and familybecome alienated from the production of the wedding spectacle, while practices reinforcing a heterogendered and globalized racial division of labor, white supremacy, the private sphere as womens work, and women as property are reinforced.


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