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Consumer resistance between conflict and cooperation: the extreme case of orphan drugs

Isabelle Chalamon (Centre de Recherche CEREN, Groupe ESC Dijon‐Bourgogne, Dijon, France)

European Journal of Marketing

ISSN: 0309-0566

Publication date: 15 November 2011



This paper aims to explore how consumer groups with limited resources and means of action are able to resist market pressures and how they are sometimes able to modify corporate practices.


A case study was carried out in France concerning the mobilization of patients suffering from rare diseases. Two data sources are used: semi‐structured interviews and documentary sources.


In this extreme context, the activists fight to expand the reach of existing market institutions so that those who do not have access to a treatment can finally benefit from the existence of a drug. In order to reach this goal, activists need to collaborate with the incumbents so that the system can be reformed from the inside. Resistance then becomes a productive act of power for the targeted firms.


This paper emphasizes a case of minor resistance whose aim is not to radically change the market system but rather to propose moderate adjustments which would allow existing market institutions to extend their reach. It also underlines the cooperative and productive dimensions of certain acts of resistance. Finally, by highlighting a case of pro‐consumption resistance, this paper adds to the current debate on the distinction between resistance and anti‐consumption.



Chalamon, I. (2011), "Consumer resistance between conflict and cooperation: the extreme case of orphan drugs", European Journal of Marketing, Vol. 45 No. 11/12, pp. 1736-1745.



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