Consumption of Landed Properties in Africa: The Mediating Role of Culture

Consumption of Landed Properties in Africa: The Mediating Role of Culture

Sanya Ojo (RDBS, University of East London, UK)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-0282-1.ch007
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This chapter demonstrates the impact of ethnic entombment practices on the consumption of housing market in a heterogeneous society. It illustrates the dynamics in relationships, either in inter-family interactions or exchanges between ‘the living and the dead'. This signifies an expanded traditional frontiers of stakeholders (e.g., marketers and governments) in the negotiation of consumption in the market. Particularly, the chapter analyses how circumstances of customs and belief systems impact the supply of houses and consequent deterioration of neighbourhoods (e.g., slumming). It draws on narratives gathered from in-depth interviews conducted with eleven informants/gatekeepers undertaken in a large metropolitan city in the South-West region of Nigeria. Findings reveal the interchange between culture and consumption in housing market and how the affective potentiality of a tradition initiates emotive configurations that shape a community's housing stock aesthetic exposition.
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Whilst it is not a new knowledge that culture impacts consumption, the intersection of materiality with rituals and its transformative role in this respect is continually a matter of interest to marketers and social scientists. The organisation, operations, and outcomes of marketing are profoundly influenced by contextual customs and traditions. As suggested by Ghemawat (2007), knowledge of and embedding in local context remains a key success element. Essentially, the cognisance of cultural differences among groups informs the wisdom that marketing cannot follow a uniformly predicted path conceptually.

Yet, common to people across regional, lingual, and religious divides are educed emotions that become part of a shared repertoire. This is evidenced in the similarity of stories articulated, as well as the commonality of metaphors (Kane, 2001) that are used (e.g. graveyards, markings, and sacrifice) in describing experiences and encounters. Death and the consequent burial rites associated with it provide a metaphoric articulation of such experiences and encounters. There are legal, ethical, financial, environmental, commercial, and social implications, around the management of death, which also include the disposition of possessions through wills, the environmental effects of burial practices and the implications of cryogenic storage (Dobscha, 2012). Researchers (e.g. Walter, 1999) have studied specific ways in which the dead and the living ‘cohabit’ in groups, the preservation of “a sense of continuity and ancestry, and ‘police the grieving’ by establishing norms for the feelings and behaviors of survivors” (Neimeyer, Prigerson, & Davies, 2002, p. 237). In the same vein, Chronis (2006) asserts that exhibited objects act as tangible mnemonic devices and radiate perceptions of cultural continuity due to their multi-sensory bodily associations and ritualistic performances in the everyday life of the consumers. Consequently, funeral rites (Bonsu & Belk, 2003), heritage exhibitions (Chronis, 2006), and consecrated landscapes (Chronis, Arnould, & Hampton, 2012) have been argued to generate an opportunity to become habituated.

Recently, Dobscha (2012) identified two main research areas at an ACR (Advances in Consumer Research) roundtable on research on death and consumer behavior. The first involves the ritual aspects of death (e.g., Bonsu & Belk, 2003; O’Donohoe & Turley, 2005) and the second relates to “identity and meaning made of death by the dead, the dying, and the living” (e.g., Neimeyer, 2000; Arndt, Solomon, Kasser, & Sheldon, 2004) (p. 1098). In speaking to the second theme, this chapter is motivated, using funerary practices, to investigate how cultural excitements and sensitivities collaborate to impact and penetrate ethnic housing markets and stock, and in the process, probe the advent of slum and slumming conditions in a non-Western society. Therefore, the extent to which the complexities of family relationship and the cultural context contribute to urban housing deterioration and neighbourhood slums is interrogated in order to amplify our knowledge of ethnic housing market dynamics. This is imperative given that “researchers need to understand the scale, scope and dynamics around the development and growth of informal/slum areas” (UN-HABITAT, 2010, p. 73).

Key Terms in this Chapter

Entombment: A practice of placing corpse in a tomb for burial.

Tragedy of the Common: Signifies circumstances where an individual’s rational self-interest conduct produce a result contrary to the best interests of the whole group by depleting some shared resource.

Spatial Immobility: A notion that location is a core feature of a house. House purchase comes with a bundle of a set of neighborhood characteristics that include accessibility, area public services, environmental quality, and neighborhood appearance.

Ancestral Mythology: Myth expressing a practice of ancestor veneration through rites and rituals ensuring the dead remained in descendants’ collective memory long after their demise, in return for perceived blessings upon the descendants.

Symbolic Interaction: A notion that human interaction and meanings is enabled by words, actions, and other symbols that have acquired established connotations.

Slum: Location in urban informal settlement that is heavily populated and typified by squalor and poor housing standard.

Intestate: A situation where a person dies without leaving a will prescribing the sharing of his/her assets.

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