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Humanizing Market Relationships: the DIY Extended Family

Consumer Culture Theory

ISBN: 978-1-78754-286-0, eISBN: 978-1-78754-285-3

Publication date: 10 April 2019


Purpose: Market logics have increasingly dominated consumer life worlds. Consumers may embrace marketization, or they may resist it, try to escape it, rebel against it, or actively manage its effects. This chapter examines the marketization of elderly care (in the form of transactional service provider relationships) and how consumers apply humanizing strategies to market relationships.

Methodology/Approach: This is a qualitative interpretive study using in-depth interviewing, observations, and the analysis of media coverage.

Findings: Drawing on institutional theory, this study shows how consumers humanize a marketized service relationship by weaving social logics into existing market logics. Our research finds consumers engaging in three humanization strategies: (1) moving beyond transactional relationships; (2) sharing consumption experiences; and (3) reinforcing social bonds through giving. The end result is the do-it-yourself (DIY) creation of extended family relationships from market resources.

Social Implications: The context of this study is a government-supported, non-profit, exchanged-based retirement support scheme that addresses the challenges of global population aging and the increasing anonymization and estrangement in our society. The authors tentatively suggest that our findings represent a move to mitigate adverse effects of neoliberalism.

Originality/Value of the Paper: Prior research has shown that consumers embrace marketization, resist it, try to escape it, rebel against it, or actively manage its effects. The authors identify another strategy used by consumers to address the increasing marketization of their life worlds, namely humanization. This study shows that consumers assemble market resources and humanize transactional service provider relationships by weaving social- into market logics resulting in the creation of a DIY extended family.



Ottlewski, L., Gollnhofer, J.F. and Schouten, J.W. (2019), "Humanizing Market Relationships: the DIY Extended Family", Bajde, D., Kjeldgaard, D. and Belk, R.W. (Ed.) Consumer Culture Theory (Research in Consumer Behavior, Vol. 20), Emerald Publishing Limited, Leeds, pp. 137-149.



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