The iconicity of celebrity and the spiritual impulse

Christopher Hackley, Rungpaka Amy Hackley

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Celebrity has a powerful material presence in contemporary consumer culture but its surface aesthetic resonates with the promise of deeper meanings. This Marketplace Icon contribution speculates on the iconicity of celebrity from a spiritual perspective. The social value or authenticity of contemporary celebrity, and the social processes through which it emerges, are matters of debate amongst researchers and competing approaches include field theory, functionalism, and anthropologically inflected accounts of the latent need for ritual, myth and spiritual fulfilment evinced by celebrity “worship.” We focus on the latter area as a partial explanation of the phenomenon whereby so many consumers seem so enchanted by images of, and stories about, individuals with whom they, or we, often have little in common. We speculate that the powerful presence of celebrity in Western consumer culture to some extent reflects and exploits a latent need for myths of redemption through the iconic character of many, though by no means all, manifestations of celebrity
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)269-274
Number of pages6
JournalConsumption, Markets and Culture
Issue number3
Early online date3 Nov 2015
Publication statusPublished - 2016


  • Celebrity
  • consumer culture
  • iconicity

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