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“Mothers of invention”: maternal empowerment and convenience consumption

Marylyn Carrigan (Birmingham Business School, University of Birmingham, Birmingham, UK)
Isabelle Szmigin (Birmingham Business School, University of Birmingham, Birmingham, UK)

European Journal of Marketing

ISSN: 0309-0566

Article publication date: 1 September 2006




The paper explores how the complex relationship between consumption and production evolves as women enact their roles as mothers, and reconstruct their self‐identity through their use or avoidance of convenience products.


Qualitative, individual interviews are used to allow an in‐depth analysis of the life stories of the group of respondents. An interpretive analysis reveals the purpose, patterns and rules followed by these individuals in their actions.


Convenience consumption empowers these “mothers of invention” to instrumental and emotional autonomy through their rejection of unnecessary drudgery, and enables them to negotiate the role of caretaker within the family.

Research limitations/implications

The implications of the study suggest that there is a role for marketing to remove any vestiges of guilt in convenience consumption by addressing the issues of sustainability, nutrition, quality and value in convenience products. Future research should investigate whether these findings resonate cross‐culturally and across broader socio‐economic groups.


The paper reveals the importance of reinforcing the connections between a better quality of family care and love. The paper also demonstrates the importance of the interactions of the family members on convenience consumption. These findings are important for marketing practitioners and academics researching family consumption.



Carrigan, M. and Szmigin, I. (2006), "“Mothers of invention”: maternal empowerment and convenience consumption", European Journal of Marketing, Vol. 40 No. 9/10, pp. 1122-1142.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2006, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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