Social Relationships in the Modern Tribe: Product Selection as Symbolic Markers

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A manufacturer of work clothes wanted to learn how workers use and experience its products to enhance marketing and sales. After a multi-sited field study, I learned that more critical than individuals or persona were the social practices that emerged within particular social units. Different work crews established their own distinctive patterns of clothing use which served as symbolic markers of group identity. Workers adduced functional attributes to explain sociality-based choices.

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