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If you can't Stand the Heat, get out of the Kitchen: Foodies Resist the Cultural Authority of the Market

Research in Consumer Behavior

ISBN: 978-1-78052-116-9, eISBN: 978-1-78052-117-6

Publication date: 7 November 2011


Purpose – A study of amateur gourmet chefs was conducted in order to expand our understanding of consumer resistance, and to theorize the relationship between culture, consumer culture, and material culture.

Methodology/approach – A semi-structured long interview approach was employed, so that the interviewees could relate their experience of cooking in their own terms. The methodology was inspired by the existential–phenomenological tradition in consumer research.

Findings – All eschewed participation in the market for cookware. They contend that “real” cooks value utility over all, and question the aestheticization, fetishization, and mass marketing of cookware to a general audience. Their responses reveal the role of culture, knowledge, information, socialization, and market structure on consumer values and beliefs, thereby bringing into question the concept of consumer agency.

Research limitations/implications – The interviews were conducted in only one geographic location and cultural milieu. Future research should examine these concepts in additional contexts.

Practical implications – The analysis reveals the basis of effective consumer resistance. In order to resist, consumers must reject citizenship in consumer culture and reconceive their political subjectivity. That said, such an approach only has emancipatory potential at the level of the individual. The interviews underscore the need for a continued critique of the operation of power in the market.

Originality/value of paper – Most of the extant literature focuses on cultural practices that have formed in response to practices within mainstream consumer culture. The cooks interviewed argued that their practice is rooted in traditions that precede consumer culture.



Earley, A. (2011), "If you can't Stand the Heat, get out of the Kitchen: Foodies Resist the Cultural Authority of the Market", Belk, R.W., Grayson, K., Muñiz, A.M. and Jensen Schau, H. (Ed.) Research in Consumer Behavior (Research in Consumer Behavior, Vol. 13), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 19-38.



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