Indexicality and the verification function of irreplaceable possessions: A semiotic analysis

Kent Grayson*, David Shulman

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

203 Scopus citations


Many researchers have noted that special possessions can represent personally relevant events, people, places, and values. Semiotics provides a useful theoretical base for understanding the representation processes that support these meanings. We apply the semiotic concept of indexicality to extend our understanding of how meanings are embedded in irreplaceable special possessions. The results of two empirical studies support the proposition that these possessions establish a semiotic linkage, which enables consumers to verify self-selected moments from their personal history. Our research also reemphasizes the value of semiotic frameworks as applied to research on possession ownership and sheds additional light on the value of authenticity to consumers.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)17-30
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Consumer Research
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jun 2000

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Business and International Management
  • Anthropology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Economics and Econometrics
  • Marketing


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