How individuals' cherished possessions become families' inalienable wealth

Carolyn Folkman Curasi, Linda L Price, Eric J. Arnould

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

141 Scopus citations


This article examines a special category of objects, things that people should not give or sell, but keep from generation to generation within the close confines of a group - inalienable wealth. Previous findings about inalienable wealth are restricted to studies of indigenous cultures by anthropologists. We explore whether and how objects pass from alienable to inalienable status across generations of middle-class North American families. Our research distinguishes families' inalienable wealth from individuals' cherished possessions and keepsakes in terms of the role of caretakers, the behavioral dynamics of guardianship, temporal orientation, shared significance, and distinctive semiotic qualities.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)609-622
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Consumer Research
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2004
Externally publishedYes


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Business and International Management
  • Economics and Econometrics
  • Marketing

Cite this