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Rhetorical issues in writing interpretivist consumer research

Margaret K. Hogg (Lancaster University Management School, Lancaster, UK)
Pauline Maclaran (Keele University, Keele, UK)

Qualitative Market Research

ISSN: 1352-2752

Article publication date: 4 April 2008




The purpose of this paper is to examine how consumer researchers working in the interpretivist tradition go about composing well founded theorized storylines, in order to convince audiences of the soundness of the theory‐building which emanates from their studies.


An analytical framework was derived from Golden‐Biddle and Locke's study of organizational ethnographers to see how they made their accounts convincing to their audiences. Golden‐Biddle and Locke's analysis revealed 3Ds – authenticity, plausibility and criticality (each with a variety of sub‐dimensions) – that played key rhetorical roles in convincing readers.


Using this analytical framework (summarized in three tables), examples from a variety of authors' work in Journal of Consumer Research ( JCR) were drawn upon to illustrate how interpretivist consumer behaviour authors tackled these three key dimensions: authenticity, plausibility and criticality.

Research limitations/implications

Only a limited set of JCR studies out of an extensive field of qualitative research in consumer behaviour were analyzed.


Little attention has been paid hitherto to the actual practices of writing qualitative research within the marketing field. The more basic writing techniques involved in qualitative research tend to be regarded as implicit, skills that are acquired by osmosis rather than being formally taught or made explicit. This can make it particularly difficult for less‐experienced interpretivist researchers to learn the tools of their qualitative trade, which are often taken for granted by longer standing researchers. The paper seeks to make some of these writing practices more transparent and some of the rhetorical devices more explicit for authors who may wish to improve their own writing styles or strengthen their ability to use rhetoric.



Hogg, M.K. and Maclaran, P. (2008), "Rhetorical issues in writing interpretivist consumer research", Qualitative Market Research, Vol. 11 No. 2, pp. 130-146.



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Copyright © 2008, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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