The Gendered Bottle: Meaning-Making in Luxury Packaging

Magdalena Petersson McIntyre
University of Gothenburg, Sweden

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Ingår i: Current Issues in European Cultural Studies; June 15-17; Norrköping; Sweden 2011

Linköping Electronic Conference Proceedings 62:36, s. 343-353

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Publicerad: 2011-11-22

ISBN: 978-91-7519-993-1

ISSN: 1650-3686 (tryckt), 1650-3740 (online)


Consumer society is an important arena for constructions of gender and sexuality that most people in the Western world interact with daily. Since the early days of packaging; gendered identities have attracted enormous interest with marketers and designers (Hine 1996). Some packages are designed to negate gender differences; while other packages shamelessly exploit gendered pleasures and sexual indulgence. Nowhere is the latter clearer than in the world of perfumes.

The paper discusses the meanings of gender in the marketplace based on a project on constructions of gender in perfume packaging. Meaning is constructed in complex ways through flows that go in many directions. It is neither generated with consumers nor marketers; but should be seen as a kind of hybrid or network that emerges from negotiations between different agents. Material objects; but also agents such as consumers; designers; manufacturers and producers are part of the meaning-making of packages. The paper builds on interviews observations from a trade fair for luxury packaging; and on interviews with three different market actors. The paper discusses cultural practices and the different gendered meanings and processes that circulate in the understandings of the meaning of perfumes and their packaging.


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