This paper aims to illuminate the characteristics of Analytic and Continental scholarship to generate a deeper appreciation for both writing styles in the consumer culture…
This paper aims to illuminate the characteristics of Analytic and Continental scholarship to generate a deeper appreciation for both writing styles in the consumer culture theory (CCT) community.
Two CCT researchers discuss the merits of Analytic and Continental scholarship in an accessible dialogical format.
Analytic ideals of scholarship, espoused by elite academic journals, include conceptual rigor, logical claims, theoretical coherence, researcher agnosticism and broad generalizability. Continental ideals of scholarship, more likely to be espoused by niche and/or critical journals, include creative writing, holistic interpretation, intellectual imagination, political provocation and deep contextualization.
This dialogue may build more understanding across variously oriented scholars, literatures, and journals in the CCT community.
Purpose: This chapter investigates how researchers assemble market research test towns as hybrid sociotechnical arrangements. Researchers use various strategies in order…
Purpose: This chapter investigates how researchers assemble market research test towns as hybrid sociotechnical arrangements. Researchers use various strategies in order to purify such hybrids into simplified representations of a fetishized imaginary, namely the average consumer.
Methodology/approach: The chapter is based on an analysis of secondary sources such as company documents. Theoretically, it draws on the concept of consumption assemblages and on anthropological theories of fetish.
Findings: Fetishization is a powerful way for both researchers and their clients to purify the hybrid assemblages they are part of into easily digestible categories such as “the real” and “the average.” In that process, the test town and its consumers emerge as a fetish that allows corporate clients to alleviate decision-making anxiety. Because of the nature of fetish, purification as a process remains incomplete.
Research Implications: These findings call for more social studies of market research as a set of practices that shape the identities of those who do the testing and forecasting. This chapter thus opens up test marketing and so-called test towns in particular as a field for consumer culture theory research.
Originality/value: This chapter provides insights into how market research creates test sites to simulate purchase behavior and pre-test consumer products. This chapter maps how different groups of actors and different technologies are enrolled in order to enact an ideal-type consumer averageness on an ongoing basis in a particular test town.
The purpose of the chapter is to engage with the relationship between the gift and the market in the context of philanthropic micro-lending. We seek to move beyond…
The purpose of the chapter is to engage with the relationship between the gift and the market in the context of philanthropic micro-lending. We seek to move beyond theorizing separate, ex-ante gift or market regimes and transactors who independently navigate between oppositional modes of transaction.
We turn to recent efforts of hybridizing charity and venture finance, exemplified by microfinance platforms such as Kiva.org. We combine data from an existing study of Kiva and its online community, with additional participant observation and third-party accounts detailing the evolution and workings of microfinance.
We illustrate how market-like elements are productively and problematically deployed in philanthropic giving and address the need to consider a broader range of socio-material relations involved in the framing of transactions.
A complex network of actors and (trans)actions needs to be assembled for the philanthropic loan to be enacted. We touch upon the making and role of the socio-material devices that actively participate in such enactment only tangentially. Further research is needed to flesh out the respective transaction complex, taking additional note of the work of borrowers, local loan officers, and other less visible actors.
Organizations need to recognize and creatively address the complex interplay of gift and market elements. They need to pay attention and take advantage of the tensions and synergies emergent in hybrid gift-market contexts.
Originality/value of chapter
We engage with a complex, less studied transaction context. The chapter shows that philanthropic gift relations can be reproduced through market-like elements and arrangements. Such production entails complex socio-material networks mobilizing a broad array of human and nonhuman actors.
Purpose: This chapter examines two rather extreme examples of non-human entities in home assemblage, interior objects, and companion animals, and how their agency appears…
Purpose: This chapter examines two rather extreme examples of non-human entities in home assemblage, interior objects, and companion animals, and how their agency appears distributed with human consumers in assembling home. The authors aim at drawing conceptual contrasts and overlappings in how agency expresses itself in these categories of living and non-living entities, highlighting the multifaceted manifestations of object agency.
Methodology/Approach: This chapter employs multiple sets of ethnographically inspired data, ranging from ethnographic interviews and an autoethnographic diary to three types of (auto-)netnographic data.
Findings: The findings showcase oscillation of agency between these three analytic categories (human, non-human living, and non-human non-living), focusing on how it is distributed between two of the entities at a time, within the heterogeneous assemblage of home. Furthermore, the findings show instances in which agency emerges as shared between all three entities.
Originality/Value: The contribution of this chapter comes from advancing existing discussion on object agency toward the focus on distributed and shared agency. The research adds to the prevailing discussion by exhibiting how agency oscillates between different types of interacting entities in the assemblage, and in particular, how the two types of non-human entities are agentic. The research demonstrates the variability and interwovenness of non-human and human, living and non-living agency as they appear intertwined in home assemblage.
Purpose: At a conference inspired by Hans Christian Andersen, this chapter makes the case for his shadowy American contemporary, Edgar Allan Poe.Methodology: Employing a…
Purpose: At a conference inspired by Hans Christian Andersen, this chapter makes the case for his shadowy American contemporary, Edgar Allan Poe.
Methodology: Employing a comparative literary analysis, it contends that consumer culture theory (CCT) can learn more from Poe’s quothful raven than Andersen’s ugly duckling.
Findings: Principally that Poe’s Ps of Perversity, Pugnacity, and Poetry are particularly pertinent to an adolescent, self-harm-prone subdiscipline that’s struggling to find itself and make its way in the world.
Originality: Poe and Andersen’s names rarely appear in the same sentence. They do now.
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…
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.
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…
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.
The study primarily relies on interviews conducted with HFH participants and organizers.
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.
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.
The study informs individual and institutional efforts to negotiate unconventional systems of exchange, in particularly in contexts of prolonged, intergenerational co-habitation.
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.