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Mapping consumer power: an integrative framework for marketing and consumer research

Janice Denegri‐Knott (Bournemouth Media School, Bournemouth University, Poole, UK)
Detlev Zwick (Schulich School of Business, York University, Toronto, Canada)
Jonathan E. Schroeder (School of Business and Economics, University of Exeter, Exeter, UK)

European Journal of Marketing

ISSN: 0309-0566

Article publication date: 1 September 2006



To help shape a more cohesive research program in marketing and consumer research, this paper presents a systematic effort to integrate current research on consumer empowerment with highly influential theories of power. A conceptual overview of power consisting of three dominant theoretical models is developed onto which is mapped existing consumer empowerment research.


A synthetic review focuses on three perspectives of consumer power: consumer sovereignty, cultural power and discursive power, drawing from sociological, philosophical and economic literature. These models are then applied to consumer research to illuminate research applications and insights.


Research of consumer empowerment has grown significantly over the last decade. Yet, researchers drawing from a variety of intellectual and methodological traditions have generated a multitude of heuristic simplifications and mid‐level theories of power to inform their empirical and conceptual explorations. This review helps clarify consumer empowerment, and offers a useful map for future research.

Research limitations/implications

Researchers in consumer empowerment need to understand the historical development of power, and to contextualize research within conflicting perspectives on empowerment.


The paper makes several contributions: organizes a currently cluttered field of consumer empowerment research, connects consumer and marketing research to high‐level theorizations of power, and outlines specific avenues for future research.



Denegri‐Knott, J., Zwick, D. and Schroeder, J.E. (2006), "Mapping consumer power: an integrative framework for marketing and consumer research", European Journal of Marketing, Vol. 40 No. 9/10, pp. 950-971.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2006, Emerald Group Publishing Limited