Ribbon Culture: Charity, Compassion, and Public Awareness

Research output: Book/ReportBook


Since its emergence in 1991, the 'awareness' ribbon has achieved the kind of cultural status usually reserved for big brand icons and religious symbols; yet its meaningfulness as a symbol is often questioned by activists and media commentators. Certainly, 'showing awareness' is not as straightforward a social practice as it might at first seem. The ribbon is, for example, both a kitsch fashion accessory as well as an emblem that expresses empathy; it is a symbol that represents awareness, yet requires no knowledge of the cause it represents; it appears to signal concern for others, but in fact prioritises self-expression. Ribbon Culture explores ambiguities surrounding these ribbons, the nature of contemporary mourning practices, the sociology of compassion, the marketing discourses of charities and the relationship between awareness and consumerism.
Original languageEnglish
PublisherPalgrave Macmillan
Number of pages240
ISBN (Print)9780230247895
Publication statusPublished - 2010


  • charity
  • compassion
  • awareness
  • risk
  • Gender


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