Journal of Consumer Policy

, Volume 16, Issue 1, pp 35–60 | Cite as

Boorstin's consumption community concept: A tale of two countries

  • Monroe Friedman
  • Piet Vanden Abeele
  • Koen De Vos


The concept of consumption community, first proposed by historian Daniel Boorstin, claims that in the modern era of high mobility, people look not only to neighborhood as a basis for feelings of community but also to communality of consumption behavior (e.g., drinking the same brand of beer). The idea was tested cross-nationally by administering a newly devised psychological sense of community (PSC) scale to more than 100 adult respondents in Belgium and a like number in the U.S. The findings support Boorstin in that for both national samples, PSC values for consumption items were generally positive and consistent with social science theoretical expectations. Implications of the study findings are discussed for theory and social policy.


Economic Policy Social Policy Study Finding High Mobility National Sample 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Das Konzept der Konsumgemeinschaft von Boorstin: Eine Geschichte von zwei Ländern. Das Konzept der Konsumgemeinschaft, erstmals durch den Historiker Daniel Boorstin vorgestellt, behauptet, da\ im heutigen Zeitalter hoher Mobilität der Einzelne sein Gemeinschaftsgefühl nicht nur durch seine Beziehung aus der direkten Nachbarschaft bezieht, sondern auch aus der Gemeinsamkeit bestimmter Konsumverhaltensweisen (z. B. das Trinken derselben Biermarke). Diese Idee wurde empirisch geprüft durch eine ländervergleichende Untersuchung, in der eine neu entwickelte psychologische Skala für den Gemeinschaftssinn bei jeweils einer Stichprobe von mehr als 100 erwachsenen Personen in Belgien und in den USA angewendet wurde. Die Ergebnisse stützen Boorstin insofern, als beide Länderstichproben zu Skalenwerten führen, die mit den theoretischen sozialwirtschaftlichen Erwartungen übereinstimmen.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Agnew, J. C. (1983). The consuming vision of Henry James. In R. W. Fox & T. J. Lears (Eds.),The culture of consumption, pp. 65–100. New York: Pantheon.Google Scholar
  2. Belk, R. W. (1988). Possessions and the extended self.Journal of Consumer Research, 15, 139–168.Google Scholar
  3. Boorstin, D. J. (1973).The Americans: The democratic experience. New York: Random House.Google Scholar
  4. Brunell, B. (1950).The human community: Its philosophy and practice for a time of crisis. New York: Harper & Row.Google Scholar
  5. Chavis, D. M., Hogge, J. H., McMillan, D. W., & Wandersman, A. (1986). Sense of community through Brunswik's Lens: A first look.Journal of Community Psychology, 14, 24–40.Google Scholar
  6. Cowan, P. A. (1975). Community psychology: The emperor without clothes.Contemporary Psychology, 20, 297–299.Google Scholar
  7. Davidson, W. B., & Cotter, P. R. (1989). Sense of community and political participation.Journal of Community Psychology, 17, 119–125.Google Scholar
  8. Davidson, W. B., & Cotter, P. R. (1986). Measurement of sense of community within the sphere of the city.Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 16, 608–619.Google Scholar
  9. Douglas, M. (1979).The world of goods. New York: Basic Books.Google Scholar
  10. Dunham, H. W. (1986). The community today: Place or process.Journal of Community Psychology, 14, 399–403.Google Scholar
  11. Durkheim, E. (1964).The division of labor in society. New York: Free Press (original work published in 1893).Google Scholar
  12. Fessler, D. R. (1952). The development of a scale for measuring community solidarity.Rural Sociology, 17, 144–152.Google Scholar
  13. Fischer, C. S. (1976).The urban experience. New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich.Google Scholar
  14. Friedman, M. (1991).A “brand” new language: Commercial influences in literature and culture. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press.Google Scholar
  15. Gerbner, G., Gross, L., Morgan, M., & Signorielli, N. (1980). The “mainstreaming” of America.Journal of Communication, 30, 10–27.Google Scholar
  16. Glynn, T. J. (1981). Psychological sense of community: Measurement and application.Human Relations, 34, 780–818.Google Scholar
  17. Glynn, T. J. (1986). Neighborhood and sense of community.Journal of Community Psychology, 14, 341–352.Google Scholar
  18. Gusfeld, J. R. (1975).The community: A critical response. New York: Harper Colophan.Google Scholar
  19. Hawkins, R., & Pingree, S. (1982). Television's influence on constructions of social reality. In: D. Pearl, L. Bouthilet, & J. Lazar (Eds.),Television and behavior, pp. 224–247. Washington: U.S. Government Printing Office. Technical report.Google Scholar
  20. Heider, F. (1958).The psychology of interpersonal relations. New York: Wiley.Google Scholar
  21. Horowitz, D. (1985).The morality of spending. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins Press.Google Scholar
  22. Hunter, A. (1975). The loss of community: An empirical test through replication.American Sociological Review, 40, 537–552.Google Scholar
  23. Hunter, A. (1979). The urban neighborhood: Its analytical and social context.Urban Affairs Quarterly, 14, 267–288.Google Scholar
  24. Klein, J. K., & D'Aunno, T. A. (1986). Psychological sense of community in the workplace.Journal of Community Psychology, 14, 365–377.Google Scholar
  25. McCracken, G. (1988).Culture and consumption. Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press.Google Scholar
  26. McMillan, D. W., & Chavis, D. M. (1986). Sense of community: A definition and theory.Journal of Community Psychology, 14, 6–23.Google Scholar
  27. Miller, D. (1987).Material culture and mass consumption. Oxford: Basil Blackwell.Google Scholar
  28. Miller, M. C. (1990). Hollywood: The ad.The Atlantic, 265, 41–54.Google Scholar
  29. Minar, D. W., & Greer, S. (1969).The concept of community. Chicago: Aldine.Google Scholar
  30. Munson, J. M., & Spivey, W. A. (1981). Product and brand-user stereotypes among social classes.Journal of Advertising Research, 21, 37–48.Google Scholar
  31. Newbrough, J. R., & Chavis, D. M. (1986). Psychological sense of community, I: Foreword.Journal of Community Psychology, 14, 3–5.Google Scholar
  32. Nisbet, R. (1962).Community and power. New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  33. O'Guinn, T. C., & Shrum, L. J. (1991).Mass-mediated social reality: The social cognition and ecology of economic norms. Paper presented at the annual meeting of the International Association for Research in Economic Psychology in Stockholm, Sweden.Google Scholar
  34. Pretty, G. M. H. (1990). Relating psychological sense of community to social climate characteristics.Journal of Community Psychology, 18, 60–65.Google Scholar
  35. Price, R. H. (1985). Work and community.American Journal of Community Psychology, 13, 1–12.Google Scholar
  36. Roen, S. R., & Burnes, A. J. (1967). Social roles and adaptation of the community.Community Mental Health Journal, 3, 153–158.Google Scholar
  37. Rudmin, F. W. (1990). Header's cognitive theory of property and the problem of unnamed and unrecognized property relationships. In: R. Kevelson (Ed.),Law and Semiotics, Volume 3, pp. 321–334. New York: Plenum Press.Google Scholar
  38. Sarason, S. B. (1972).The creation of settings and future societies. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.Google Scholar
  39. Sarason, S. B. (1974).The psychological sense of community: Prospects for a community psychology. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.Google Scholar
  40. Scherer, J. (1972).Contemporary community: Sociological illusion or reality? London: Tavistock.Google Scholar
  41. Schudson, M. (1984).Advertising, the uneasy persuasion. New York: Basic Books.Google Scholar
  42. Segall, M. H., Dasen, P. R., Berry, J. W., & Poortinga, Y. H. (1990).Human behavior in global perspective. Elmsford, NY: Pergamon Press.Google Scholar
  43. Warren, D. (1969). Neighborhood structure and riot behavior in Detroit: Some exploratory findings.Social Problems, 16, 464–484.Google Scholar
  44. Warren, D. (1975). Six kinds of neighborhoods.Psychology Today, 9, 74–79.Google Scholar
  45. Warren, D., & Warren, R. B. (1975).The neighborhood organizer's handbook. South Bend, IN: University of Notre Dame Press.Google Scholar
  46. Wellman, B. (1979). The community question: The intimate networks of East Yorkers.American Journal of Sociology, 84, 1201–1231.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1993

Authors and Affiliations

  • Monroe Friedman
    • 1
  • Piet Vanden Abeele
    • 2
  • Koen De Vos
  1. 1.Eastern Michigan UniversityYpsilantiUSA
  2. 2.Catholic University of LeuvenLeuvenBelgium

Personalised recommendations