Creating and retaining authenticity among craft breweries: a case study of local breweries in Boston, Massachusetts
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Brewing has a long history in this country--first making an appearance in 1620 with the landing of the Pilgrims at Plymouth Rock in Massachusetts. Today, beers can be easily categorized into one of two types: 1) industrial, and 2) craft. The focus of this paper is on this second type, the "craft beer" and the so-called "renaissance" it experienced during the 1980s. In 1983, there were only 43 operating breweries in the United States--today there are over 3,000 (Brewers Association, 2014). The resource- partitioning model, established within the organizational ecology field, has been used to explain this rapid growth (Carol & Swaminathan, 2000). However, of particular interest to me, are the reasons for why craft breweries are so appealing to consumers. Pulling from literatures in Urban, Cultural, and Economic Sociology, I argue that the key characteristic that has allowed craft breweries to experience such success is their apparent "authenticity" (Zukin, 2010; Brown-Saracino, 2007; Peterson & Anand, 2004; Sherman, 2007). To date, the majority of analyses focused on "authenticity" have centered its creation within the realm of production (Johnston & Baumann, 2007). It is true that craft breweries cultivate a sense of "authenticity" based on their location, as well as the well curated image they project within their own space. However, I argue that it is through the consumption experience, in which both producers and consumers play a crucial role, that craft breweries are able to further cultivate this "authentic" image, as well as hold onto it (Jones et al., 2005; Sherman, 2007). The idea that "authenticity" is not only found within the realm of production, but also consumption (such as at coffee shops and restaurants), has been explored by sociologists such as Richard Lloyd and Sharon Zukin (Lloyd, 2006; Zukin, 2011). It is my intent to explore the ways in which this is the case at breweries, as well as the variables, such as space and place, that contribute to the experience of "authenticity."