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Consumer cynicism: From resistance to anti‐consumption in a disenchanted world?

Philippe Odou (University Lille Nord de France and Skema Business School, Lille, France)
Pauline de Pechpeyrou (University Lille Nord de France, IMMD, Lille, France)

European Journal of Marketing

ISSN: 0309-0566

Article publication date: 15 November 2011




The purpose of this paper is to offer a new perspective on resistance and anti‐consumption literature by relating it to consumer cynicism.


The paper proceeds to a conceptual deconstruction of consumer cynicism by comparing the contemporary meaning of the term with the original signification of cynicism, contrasting the psychological approach with the philosophical one. This perspective sheds light on disparate forms of consumer cynicism found in previous research.


Four different figures of consumption related to cynicism were distinguished in this paper. Defensive cynicism and offensive cynicism are psychological tools used to neutralize persuasion attempts or divert marketing techniques. Subversive cynicism and ethical cynicism, which are reminiscences of cynicism in Ancient Greece, challenge the consumerist ideology and even propose an alternative ethics.


Prior research on consumer cynicism has focused on the defensive psychological dimension of the concept, limiting it to a coping device for deceived consumers. Three other facets have been explored in this paper and provide a broader framework that can account for the disparate manifestations observed in the resistance and anti‐consumption literature. This new conceptualization of consumer cynicism could also explain why consumers' disappointment with private consumption does not always lead to public involvement.



Odou, P. and de Pechpeyrou, P. (2011), "Consumer cynicism: From resistance to anti‐consumption in a disenchanted world?", European Journal of Marketing, Vol. 45 No. 11/12, pp. 1799-1808.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2011, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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