The Aestheticized Pilgrimage to IKEATOPIA

  • Morten Bech Kristensen
Part of the Theory and History in the Human and Social Sciences book series (THHSS)


This chapter presents the function of aesthetics in IKEA; a well-known global enterprise selling home-related items. The core of the chapter is a critical cultural–historical and –psychological analysis of the material and ideational domains of an global enterprise. The role of aesthetics in IKEA is to appeal to the consumer regarding how to imagine and achieve a BEAUTIFUL, SAFE, AND PLEASING home; an eutopia as opposed to the purgatory of Medieval European time, but with some dystopian undertones. The aim of the chapter is to analyze IKEA as a place of participation under austere guidance comparable to an organized pilgrimage with regard to the internalization of values and norms. It is shown that IKEA seeks to unify and globalize how-to-do identity through doing the (IKEA) home, and how this draws in narratives on democracy, environmental concern, and charity—as justification. The chapter suggests that journeying in IKEA is a guided pilgrimage where the consumer-pilgrim is encouraged to buy into meanings supportive of and reflecting the outside society. This perspective is comparable to how pilgrimage in organized religions supports and reflects values and norms necessary for living among others in a larger social framework; however, in contemporary times, this means selling one’s life-time in wage labor to obtain a salary to be used for acquiring stuff meant to be used in—and decorate—our dwelling-space with prefabricated artifacts easily disposed of. For to up-hold society, constant invention and consumption of artifacts is a core activity. Consumer–citizen–pilgrims participate in growth, turning the fiscal wheel by performing a pilgrimage to IKEA.


Aesthetics Pilgrimage IKEA Consumerism Guidance Sensual control 


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Morten Bech Kristensen
    • 1
  1. 1.Centre for Cultural PsychologyAalborg UniversityAalborgDenmark

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