A recent AP poll and article regarding wedding attendance illustrates how institutions, more specifically ceremonial value, can play an important role in whether one decides to attend a wedding (gift too) even in an economic downturn. Thorstein Veblen defined institutions as “settled or prevalent habits of thought.”
The first part of the article describes how a woman feels obligated to attend her niece’s wedding despite her disability checks ceasing and her husband’s recent layoff. Why does she feel obligated to attend a wedding when her personal fiances are dire? She explains, “My niece said the most important thing is just for me to be there and she’s marrying the nicest boy. I’ll wait until things get better, and send a check when we can.” According to the poll, only 3 percent of Americans would decline an invitation to a wedding due to financial reasons. Ceremonial value plays an important role in determining whether to attend the wedding, even if you cannot afford to do so.
It also appears that giving a wedding present does not suffer greatly.
Marriage is one of the five classical institutions so it’s not at all surprising that there is such a high ceremonial value attached to it, which best explains why people still attend weddings and give gifts, even in the midst of a financial crisis.
On a side note, i think Guy Betts must have some institutional economist inside him because he understands the importance of instrumental value. 🙂