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Performing the high-school prom in the UK: Locating authenticity through practice

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The purpose of this study was threefold: to develop an understanding of the appropriation of the US high-school prom in the UK and, more importantly, to generate an insight into the producers and consumers of such an event; to establish if the performance of the prom is hyper-real or if there is an awareness of the authentic or inauthentic elements of this ritual; and finally to ascertain local interpretation of authenticity and glocal practice. The method used here was a qualitative approach employing 24 in-depth interviews with young adults (18–20 years) who had attended a prom in the UK in the last three years. The findings illustrated that the role and the social network of the individual was key to engagement with the high-school prom and also indicated a possible symbiosis of the strands of theory associated with authenticity. Diverse localised meanings of the prom performance were also identified. As the school prom is a growth market in the UK, businesses should be aware of adolescents' desire for ownership of this event and should tailor their marketing accordingly.

Keywords: adolescence; authenticity; organisation and practice; qualitative research; rituals

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: University of Stirling, UK 2: University of Bath, UK

Publication date: August 1, 2011

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