The purpose of this paper is to contribute to the growing marketing literature that investigates markets as “configurations”, i.e. networks of market actors engaged in market-shaping practices and performances. As this pioneering work has been largely focused on established mainstream markets and industries driven by large multi-national companies, the present article extends practice-based market theorizing to countercultural market emergence and also to unconventional market practices shaping it.
Insights are drawn from a four-year multi-sited ethnographic study of a rapidly expanding electronic music scene that serves as an illustrative example of emergent countercultural market.
In contrast to mainstream consumer or industrial markets, the authors identify a distinctive dynamic underlying market emergence. Countercultural markets as well as their appeal and longevity largely depend on an inherent authenticity paradox that focal market actors need to sustain and negotiate through ongoing market-shaping and market-restricting practices.
From a practitioner perspective, the authors discuss the implications for market actors wishing to build on countercultural authenticity. They highlight the fragility of countercultural markets and point out practices sustaining them, and also possibilities and challenges in tapping into them.
The study contributes by theorizing the tensions that energize and drive countercultural market emergence. In particular, the authors address the important role of market-restricting practices in facilitating countercultural appeal that has not received explicit attention in prior marketing literature.
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