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Symbolic double-coding: the case of Australian pubs

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Purpose ? Discussions of symbolic meaning tend to focus on consumer goods and as a result there is relatively little consideration given to the meanings associated with less tangible receptacles such as locations. The purpose of this paper is to explore the symbolic meaning resident in a particular consumption location, namely the Australian pub (public drinking house). Design/methodology/approach ? Interviews and observations were used to explore Australians' perceptions of their pubs. Fifty-two patrons and seven bar tenders were interviewed in 23 pubs across three Australian states (Western Australia, New South Wales, and Victoria). Findings ? The men and women interviewed accepted that pubs are still male-dominated domains. At the same time, they regarded pubs to be iconic of Australian culture. The findings suggest that consumption locations can be replete with numerous symbolic meanings and that it is possible for individuals to perceive contradictory meanings relating to the same location. Obtaining an understanding of individuals' and groups' sense of place can yield a richer interpretation of the possibly contradictory symbolic meanings resident in particular consumption locations. Originality/value ? In recent times there have been growing calls for consumer researchers to include the concept of place attachment in their efforts to better understand the consumption process. This paper draws together the theoretical areas of symbolic meaning, self-concept, and place attachment to provide insight into the consumption dynamics occurring every day in Australian pubs.
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Keywords: Australia; Consumer behaviour; Culture; Symbolism

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: April 1, 2006

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