In a globalizing and more integrated world economy, craft goods which are sourced from the developing world are increasingly becoming part of the decorative arrangement in first world households. While there has recently emerged detailed research on artisans and their integration into global markets, and on consumption more generally, there has been relatively little sociological research concerning the advertising and consumption of these artisanal products. In light of studies concerning the marketing of third world crafts, and based on content analysis of a number of web sites and catalogues marketing Asian crafts undertaken in 2004, this paper has two main aims. First, it analyses the various ways “ethnic branding” is an important marketing feature of a craft item and second, it aims to deconstruct the images and texts in terms of notions of “traditional”, “natural” and “authentic”. Underlying the analysis and interpretation is the notion of the commodification of poverty. The paper thus develops our understanding of the relationship between global markets, marketing of third world craft goods, and consumption practices.
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