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Although definitional difficulties pose a challenge to cross- cultural research, culture’s influence on consumption and mar- keting has drawn increasing attention in recent years. Lenar- towicz and Roth (2001) report that almost 10% of the articles published in 10 renowned journals during 1996–2000 used culture as an independent variable. Consequently, a number of approaches have been used to identify and operationalize culture allowing its inclusion in empirical research.
Based on a twenty-year review of cross-cultural consumer research, Sojka and Tansuhaj (1995: 4) concluded that resear- chers have followed three approaches to operationalize culture: through language, through material goods/artefacts, and through beliefs/value systems. Language offers “an interpreta- tive code or schema for organizing and presenting the world”, but is not a good indicator of ethnicity and cannot be used alone to explain different behaviors across subcultures and cultures. Possessions/artefacts allow a more concrete operatio- nalization of culture, as goods embody visible evidence of cultural meaning. Many cultural artefacts (e.g., durable goods, toys, and clothing) have been studied in cross-cultural contexts. Finally, values/belief systems (e.g., fatalism, materialism, and relations with others) as operational definitions of culture were deemed instrumental in understanding cross-cultural consumer behavior.

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