Gender Issues

, Volume 31, Issue 1, pp 1–20 | Cite as

Consumption Rituals in the Transition to Motherhood

  • Sara Afflerback
  • Amanda Koontz AnthonyEmail author
  • Shannon K. Carter
  • Liz Grauerholz


The acquisition of consumer goods is a significant feature of the transition to motherhood for middle-class women in contemporary US society. The acquisition and arrangement of consumer goods during the transition to motherhood often occurs in ritualized fashion through two prevalent consumption rituals, nesting and gifting. Using data from qualitative, semi-structured interviews with new, first-time mothers, this article explores the symbolic meanings mothers associate with these consumption rituals. Findings indicate that the rituals facilitated a sense of control and feelings of preparedness for the new role and status of mother, played a significant role in gendering the child, and allowed mothers to create a sense of continuity between their own interests and their children’s interests. In all three of these areas, nesting and gifting were conceived as ways of becoming more “prepared,” thereby facilitating the transition to becoming a mother. This study provides insight into how consumption helps perpetuate the gender system, both through gendering the child and reinforcing the culture of motherhood.


Childhood Motherhood Consumption Gender socialization Consumption rituals Gifting Nesting 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sara Afflerback
    • 1
  • Amanda Koontz Anthony
    • 2
    Email author
  • Shannon K. Carter
    • 2
  • Liz Grauerholz
    • 2
  1. 1.ORS ImpactSeattleUSA
  2. 2.Department of SociologyUniversity of Central FloridaOrlandoUSA

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