Will You Marry Me?: Spectacle and Consumption in the Ritual of Marriage Proposals
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This article examines the marriage proposal ritual in contemporary American society. A marriage proposal represents a critical shift in a romantic relationship; by formalizing one’s engagement through the exchange of symbols and sharing of intentions couples exit the dating phase and project themselves toward married life. I analyze a set of narratives of marriage proposals posted on the World Wide Web and collected on various Web sites. By arguing that the marriage proposal is a symbolic ritual enacted by social agents following socially accepted prescriptions and roles, I discuss the relevance of the marriage proposal in the greater context of a post-industrial consumer culture. In particular, I discuss the process of construction of self-presentation strategies that abide by the logic of spectacle and sign value.