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Eller College Home > Faculty and Research > Research Buzz > Intracommunity Gifting

Research Buzz

Melanie Wallendorf


  • intracommunity gifting
  • gifting
  • marketing
  • ethnographic study
  • dyadic gifts
  • Hurricane Katrina
  • moral economy
  • Mardi Gras
  • New Orleans
  • intersection of market and moral economy
  • corporate sponsorship


Intracommunity Gifting

The Intersection of Contemporary Moral and Market Economies

Consumer research on gifting has primarily focused on the interpersonal meanings and behavior patterns associated with dyadic gifts that are specifically given from one individual to another and where the central goal is interpersonal relationship maintenance. Yet we find another type of gifting when community members in one social position give to community members in another position where the central goal is intracommunity, rather than interpersonal, relationship work.

This ethnographic research details the ritual practices, structural components, and meanings associated with intracommunity gifts employing the empirical context of post-Katrina New Orleans’ community celebration of Mardi Gras. Through this context, we detail how intracommunity gifting gives prominence to the logics of the moral economy while still drawing from those of the market economy. Beyond this context, we use our conclusions about the intersection of the market and moral economies to understand contemporary ambivalence to corporate sponsorships of local community events.


Michelle Weinberger is with the Medill School at Northwestern University. Melanie Wallendorf is the Soldwedel Professor of Marketing at the Eller College of Management, University of Arizona.

Publication Source

Forthcoming in the Journal of Consumer Research, June 2012.

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