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Critical Theory in Consumer Research: Advancing the Conversation

Consumer Culture Theory

ISBN: 978-1-78560-323-5, eISBN: 978-1-78560-322-8

ISSN: 0885-2111

Publication date: 18 November 2015



This paper reconsiders the role of critical theory within the field of consumer culture theory.


The paper is documentary evidence of a roundtable held at the 10th annual Consumer Culture Theory conference on the subject. The roundtable uses discussion and conceptual methods.


The author begins with a brief introduction to the use of critical theory in the academy and in CCT more specifically. In the course of the roundtable, it was discovered that the reason we do not talk about critical theory more often may be attributable to its success, rather than failure – indeed, it has inspired so many new academic traditions, that we rarely pause to think of the various critical traditions in one place. Building on this foundation, participants were asked to discuss what critical theory means to them; what theorists they have used; what engagement they have had with critical theory traditions in CCT; and what their vision for critical theory influenced consumer research would be. Participation came from both planned and emergent participants. The final conclusion was the felicitous discovery that critical traditions are alive and well in consumer culture theory, and that there are many pathways to pursue critical consumer research in the future.


The roundtable session and paper are a direct response to the conference theme, which asked conference attendees to reflect on the history of consumer research, and specifically the role of critical theory within it. Moreover, the paper builds upon important debates about the philosophy of science and the role of critical theory within consumer research.



Earley, A. (2015), "Critical Theory in Consumer Research: Advancing the Conversation", Consumer Culture Theory (Research in Consumer Behavior, Vol. 17), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 77-87.



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