Consumer Culture Theory: Volume 18

Cover of Consumer Culture Theory

Table of contents

(13 chapters)

Prelims

Pages 1-21
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Part I: The French Revolution: Liberté, Fraternité, Egalité

Purpose

Previous research suggests that constructions of legitimacy play a central role in the development of markets, yet little attention has been given to how that legitimacy is constructed through the material practices of market actors. This paper aims to address this gap via an examination of cultural intermediaries in the fine wine market of Shanghai.

Methodology/approach

An interpretive thematic analysis was carried out on data from 13 semi-structured interviews with fine wine intermediaries based primarily in Shanghai (5 wine writers/educators; 5 sommeliers/retailers; 3 brand representatives).

Findings

The dimensions of the legitimation of wine were examined, identifying three key themes: the legitimacy of intermediaries as experts; the legitimacy of a particular mode of wine consumption; the legitimacy of the intermediaries as exemplars for not-yet-legitimate consumers. These findings suggest that cultural intermediaries’ personal, consuming preferences and practices are significant to the formation of a new market, and that they must negotiate potential tensions between interactions with legitimate, not-yet-legitimate and illegitimate consumers.

Research limitations/implications

Limitations with regard to generalizability are discussed with regard to potential future research.

Social implications

The focus on cultural intermediaries and dimensions of legitimation can be used to examine the case of other emerging markets to anticipate the pathways to institutionalizing new forms of taste and consumption practices.

Originality/value

The paper offers an empirical insight into the market dynamics of distinction in the Shanghai wine market and conceptual insight into the importance of cultural intermediaries as exemplar consumers.

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Purpose

Our paper is centred on exploring the experiences of opening up closed doors to strangers in the context of home exchange.

Methodology/approach

This paper is based on a year-long research project which has drawn on multiple qualitative methods of data collection. A bricolage approach was adopted to enable the authors to gather data which is sensitive to multivocality and conscious of difference within the consumer experience.

Findings

Our findings demonstrate that home exchangers treat their home as an asset to be capitalised, to allow them to travel to places and communities otherwise unreachable. Home exchangers simultaneously engage in the symbolic creation of home in a temporary environment and utilise the kinship and community networks of their home exchange partner.

Practical implications

Our paper adds depth and an insight to the increasing media coverage of the home exchange phenomenon.

Social implications

As a consumption practice that is witnessing widespread appeal, home exchange uncovers evidence of trust amongst strangers. While it is common practice to open the home in order to build friendship, it is less common for this invitation to be extended to strangers.

Originality/value

We extend the extensive theorisation of the home as a symbolic environment and reveal that the home can also be used in an enterprising fashion.

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Purpose

Video gaming, which remains culturally embedded in masculine ideals, is increasingly becoming a leisure activity for female consumers. Guided by social dominance theory, this paper examines how female gamers navigate the masculine-oriented gaming consumption context.

Methodology/approach

Eight avid female gamers (ages 20–29) participated in-depth interviews, following a phenomenological approach to better understand their lived experiences with video gaming. Data were analyzed using phenomenological procedures.

Findings

Findings reveal an undercurrent of gender-based consumer vulnerability, driven by stereotypical perceptions of “gamer girls” in the masculine-oriented gaming subculture. Further, the findings highlight the multilayered, multidimensional nature of gaming as a vulnerable consumption environment, at individual, marketplace, and cultural levels.

Social implications

The culturally embedded gamer girl stereotype provides a foundation upon which characteristics of consumer vulnerability flourish, including a culture of gender-based consumer harassment, systematic disempowerment in the marketplace, and conflicting actions and attitudes toward future cultural change.

Originality/value

This research suggests female gamers struggle to gain a foothold in gaming due to the socially and culturally constructed masculine dominance of the field. Our research study provides a stepping-stone for future scholars to explore gendered subcultures and begins to address the dynamic interplay of power, gender, technology, and the market.

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Purpose

The current study sheds light on non-human object agency by drawing illustrative examples from a case of horse/horsemeat, and thereby captures the ways in which living and non-living animal entities have shifting effects and/or intentions in relation to human entities within heterogeneous networks of cultural resources and practices.

Methodology/approach

Leaning on the post-human approach, the case of horse/horsemeat provides an illustrative empirical entry point into exploring how by looking through the lenses of object agency one can deconstruct the prevailing anthropomorphism-based dualistic views of living and non-living domestic animals as subjects or objects.

Findings

The paper argues that by contemplating both the living horse and non-living horsemeat as ontologically shifting and co-constructive entities in relation to human subjects, we are able to elaborate the contradictions and convergences of object agency that appear in living and/or non-living co-consuming units.

Social implications

The study showcases important aspects of animal welfare, addressing the effects of shifting from a human-centred perspective to a post-human view on equality between various kinds of entities.

Originality/value

This paper contributes to the discussions of non-human object agency, addressing the issue from the perspective of an animal entity, which enables participating in deconstructing dualisms such as subject and object as well as living and non-living. In particular, it highlights how in the case of an animal entity, agency may emerge in terms of effects and (some capacity of) intentions both within living and non-living entities.

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Purpose

We introduce the concept of social-economic innovation (SEI) and point to cultural challenges involved in instituting SEI. In the second part of the paper, we delve into the alternative exchange system of “Housing for help” (HFH) to explore the challenging negotiation of roles and relations by participants and organizers of HFH.

Methodology/approach

The study primarily relies on interviews conducted with HFH participants and organizers.

Findings

We outline the challenges of categorization and slippage in social-economic exchange systems that combine multiple logics of exchange. While primarily focused on the micro context of relational dynamics occurring between participants, the respective cultural challenges are also discussed in light of institutional problems.

Research limitations/implications

The introduction of the concept of SEI prepares ground for a more coordinated study of the cultural processes and challenges involved in instituting unconventional social-economic systems. The paucity of existent research and the preliminary nature of our study call for further investigation.

Practical implications

The study informs individual and institutional efforts to negotiate unconventional systems of exchange, in particularly in contexts of prolonged, intergenerational co-habitation.

Originality/value

We provide an umbrella concept that ties together existent research and opens new avenues for systematic cultural study. Further, we uncover a fertile context for exploration and take preliminary steps toward unraveling the challenging relational dynamics in SEI.

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Part II: Revolutionizing the Market: Consumer Activism and Sustainability

Purpose

Research has shown that activist consumers create places that are imbued with idiosyncratic meanings, conventions, rules, and activities. However, research on why and how such places are created is scant.

Methodology/approach

This ethnography in the context of voluntary refugee helpers shows why and how a meaningful place is produced.

Findings

By drawing on spatial theory from human geography, I map out how activist consumers create a hyper-place: embedded in the dynamics of demarcating and linking, voluntary helpers set a place apart from the surrounding space and other places. This place allows for practices that combine materiality, activities, and meanings in new ways in comparison to practices in traditional places. This place allows for the enactment and the conveyance of values that are not accommodated in traditional marketplaces.

Originality/value

I contribute to literature on activist consumers and the role of place within consumer research.

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Purpose

This paper discusses whether subcultural activism can play a role in the delegitimation of mainstream markets.

Methodology/approach

The authors conducted a content analysis of press articles on the subject using FactivaTM database and searching the three most read newspapers in Brazil (Ertimur & Coskuner-Balli, 2015; Humphreys, 2010a, 2010b). Data was collected both retrospectively and concurrently. Analysis used open and theoretical coding, moving up from the emic meanings extracted from the texts to an etic account of the phenomena (Cherrier, H., & Murray, J. B. (2007). Reflexive dispossession and the self: Constructing a processual theory of identity. Consumption Markets & Culture, 10(1), 1–29; Thompson, C. J. (1997). Interpreting consumers: A hermeneutical framework for deriving marketing insights from the texts of consumers’ consumption stories. Journal of Marketing Research, 34(4), 438–455; Thompson, C. J., & Haytko, D. L. (1997). Speaking of fashion: Consumers’ uses of fashion discourses and the appropriation of countervailing cultural meanings. Journal of Consumer Research, 24(1), 15–42.).

Findings

The authors seek to explain in what way the relationship that Brazilians had with the 2014 FIFA World Cup reflects how the soccer industry has entered a delegitimation process.

Research limitations/implications

We sustain that regulatory legitimacy is less relevant than normative, cognitive, and pragmatic legitimacy in the context of an evolving society. In fact, further studying the long-term consequences of this evolution in the market-system would shed light on whether or not social movements can have a lasting impact on society (Zizek, 2014).

Originality/value

We contribute to the literature on market systems by studying an often-neglected aspect of market systems literature, the delegitimation of a mainstream market.

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Purpose

We stress the public demand for accountability of global brands and the rise in normative public brand evaluations in online networks. To gain an empirical and theoretical understanding of these phenomena, we introduce the notion of public brand auditing, which refers to public agents collectively contrasting brands against a multiplicity of shared understandings of what is worthy and good.

Methodology/approach

Convention theory serves as a theoretical lens to conceptualize public brand auditing, since it provides a normative framework of orders of worth based on which the appropriateness of actions are judged. Empirically, we conduct a netnographic study and illustrate public auditing strategies with online discussions about Google on the Slashdot platform.

Findings

We find that public brand auditing comprises two major auditing strategies: drawing leeways of acceptable brand conduct and allocating responsibilities.

Research implications

Approaching public forms of normative brand judgments from a convention theory perspective allows researchers to better understand how the public holds brands accountable and evaluates brand conduct against higher-order principles.

Practical implications

The concept of public brand auditing helps managers to understand and approach the normative basis of both positive and negative brand judgments.

Social implications

We urge brands to monitor public demand for accountability and emphasize the importance of the civic, market, and industrial orders of worth in guiding brand conduct.

Originality/value

This paper offers a conceptualization of and a framework for investigating public brand auditing phenomena.

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Purpose

The purpose is to argue that market-generated and brand-related phenomena such as fandoms work as a social and institutional force beyond the market and to showcase their influence on the society as a whole.

Methodology/approach

The influence of fandoms on many societal institutions is explored through the literature on fandom studies and consumer research.

Findings

The research indicates that market-generated resources and their related sociocultural dynamics play a significant role in shaping the evolution of many institutions of current societies.

Research limitations/implications

The research is exclusively focused on fandoms despite the varied facets of market-related sociocultural dynamics, opportunity exists for research beyond the exploratory work done here shifting the focus from fandoms to brand systems.

Practical implications

Researchers, especially in Consumer Culture Theory (CCT), may use the perspective shift from market to society to enlarge the scope to new fields of study, out of the market.

Social implications

The research provides new lenses to understand emerging phenomena in fields such as religion and/or politics difficult to understand with traditional frameworks.

Originality/value

This paper provides exploratory research identifying market-related social and institutional processes and emphasizing how they influence other societal institutions, such as family, religion, corporations, professions, and politics; rather than bringing social and institutional processes into the marketplace.

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Purpose

This conceptual paper diagnoses the fundamental tensions between the social temporality of sustainability and the individual temporality of marketing in the Dominant Social Paradigm. We propose the notion of ‘existentialized sustainability’ as a possible way forward.

Methodology/approach

We take the Heideggerian perspective that death may bring individual and societal time into a common framework. From here, we compare anthropological and consumer culture research on funerary rites in non-modern societies with contemporary societies of the DSP.

Findings

Funerary rites reveal important insights into how individuals relate to their respective societies. Individuals are viewed as important contributors to the maintenance and regeneration of the group in non-modern societies. In contrast, funerary rites for individuals in the DSP are private, increasingly informal, and unconnected to sustaining society at large. This analysis reveals clear parallels between the goals of sustainability and the values of non-modern funerary rites.

Social implications

We propose the metaphor of a funerary rite for sustainability to promote consciousness towards societal futures. The idea is to improve ‘quality of death’ through sustainability – in other words, the ‘existentialization of sustainability’. This opens up a possible strategy for marketers to actively contribute to a societal shift towards a New Environmental Paradigm (NEP).

Originality/value

The Heideggerian approach is a novel way to identify and reconcile the epistemic contradictions between sustainability and marketing. This diagnosis suggests a way in which marketing can address the wicked problem of global sustainability challenges, perhaps allowing a new spirituality in consumption.

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Part III: The Digital Revolution

Purpose

The purpose of this study is to examine the interplay between the curatorial practices of consumers as collectors and the materiality of the collected objects. In particular, this study explores how the material substances of collected objects shapes curatorial practices and how the ongoing use of the collected objects challenges curatorial practices.

Methodology/approach

Taking advantage of the publicization of once-private collections on social media, we collect 111 YouTube videos created by plastic shoe aficionados. Drawing from visual anthropology and theorizations of materiality, we analyze consumer interactions with the objects they collect.

Findings

This study’s findings elucidate consumers’ interactions with the material substances of the objects they collect and demonstrate how these interactions shape the ways in which consumers curate their collections, including how they wear, care for, catalog, and display the collected objects.

Research implications

Our findings have implications for theorization on consumer collections, consumer identity, and consumer participation in brand communities and are relevant for consumer researchers who study the interactions and relationships between consumers and consumption objects.

Originality/value

This study is the first to re-examine consumers as collectors to extend and update consumer research on the curatorial practices of physical, wearable collectibles. This study sets the foundations for further research to advance our understanding of consumers as collectors as well as to illuminate other theories and aspects of consumer research that consider consumer–object interactions.

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Purpose

This research was conducted to outline the capturing and analysis of composite texts. We contextualize this using selfies as image and textual data sourced from Instagram and analyzed using a three stage analysis approach from a genre perspective.

Methodology/approach

The capturing of composite texts is outlined for numerous services available to researchers to study social media contexts. The analysis applies a three-stage technique of (1) what is shown, (2) what is said, and (3) what is the central narrative to overcome interpretive limitations of privileging text over image or vice versa.

Findings

Based on their structural characteristics, seven genre types emerged from the coded sample set.

Research limitations/implications

Issues arise in capturing this data as social media platforms change their access and usage policies and as capturing services alter their capabilities.

Originality/value

The paper outlines a novel approach to capturing and understanding the mimesis and diegesis of selfies as composite texts.

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Cover of Consumer Culture Theory
DOI
10.1108/S0885-2111201618
Publication date
2016-11-28
Book series
Research in Consumer Behavior
Editors
Series copyright holder
Emerald Publishing Limited
ISBN
978-1-78635-495-2
eISBN
978-1-78635-495-2
Book series ISSN
0885-2111