The purpose of this paper is to revisit Russell Belk’s (1988) landmark paper “Possessions and the extended self”. The authors provide a prehistory of related ideas and then examine the controversy it triggered regarding the different paradigms of research in marketing (Cohen, 1989) some 26 years ago.
This paper takes Belk seriously when he argues that his work is a synthesis and extension of prior studies leading to the novel production of the “extended self” concept. Via a close reading of the history of self-constitution, the authors highlight a number of thinkers who were grappling with similar issues now associated in our disciplinary consciousness to the idea of the “extended self”. To assess the contribution of Belk’s work, the authors engage in citation and interpretive analyses. The first analysis compared scholarly citations of Belk (1988) with the top ten most-cited Journal of Consumer Research (JCR) papers published in the same year. The second citation analysis compared Belk (1988) to the top ten most-cited JCR papers in the history of the journal. The authors follow this with an interpretive analysis of Belk’s contribution to consumer research via his 1988 paper.
Belk (1988) had the most citations (N = 934) of any paper published in JCR in 1988. When compared to all papers published in the history of JCR, Belk (1988) leads with the most overall citations. Moreover, Belk (1988) is the most prominent interpretive paper that appeared in JCR and one of the top three, regardless of paradigm. The analysis illustrates diversity in topic and methodology, thus indicating that Belk’s contribution impacted a wide variety of scholars. Interpretive analysis indicates the importance of Belk’s work for subsequently impactful consumer researchers.
The authors offer a prehistory of the “extended self” concept by highlighting literature that many consumer researchers will not have explored previously. With citations spanning over three decades, consumer behavior scholars recognize Belk (1988) as an important paper. Our analysis reveals that contrary to received wisdom, it is not only important for interpretive researchers or scholars within the consumer culture theory, but it is significant for the entire discipline, irrespective of paradigmatic orientation. The research presented here demonstrates that Belk’s (1988) paper is arguably one of the most influential papers ever published in JCR.
Collaboration is the norm in marketing and consumer research, yet the dynamics of academic cooperation are poorly understood. The aim of this paper is to probe the…
Collaboration is the norm in marketing and consumer research, yet the dynamics of academic cooperation are poorly understood. The aim of this paper is to probe the sociology of collaboration within marketing scholarship by means of a detailed case study of the seminal consumer odyssey.
The paper presents a history of the consumer odyssey based on a range of secondary sources.
The consumer odyssey, one of many collaborate circles in marketing thought, was a seminal moment in the development of marketing research.
This paper encourages reflection on the dynamics of collaboration and the collegial character of marketing scholarship. Also, the paper has implications for institutional policy, for example the RAE, which measures research as an individual endeavour.
This paper presents a rare reflection on the social dynamics of marketing scholarship. Although it focuses on the interpretive research tradition within consumer research, its findings are relevant to every marketing academic, regardless of their philosophical bent, empirical concern or methodological preference.
Purpose: In this paper, we focus on the mythic nature of the anonymous Bitcoin creator, Satoshi Nakamoto. Drawing on ideas from Foucault and Barthes on authorship, we…
Purpose: In this paper, we focus on the mythic nature of the anonymous Bitcoin creator, Satoshi Nakamoto. Drawing on ideas from Foucault and Barthes on authorship, we analyze the notion of the absence of the author and how that sustains the brand. Design/methodology/approach: Based on interview data, participant observation, archival data, and a netnography, we examine the discourses that emerge in the wake of multiple Satoshi Nakamoto exposés that serve as both stabilizing and destabilizing forces in the Bitcoin ecosystem. Findings: We analyze the different interpretations of Satoshi Nakamoto through his own text and how his readers interpret him. We identify how consumers employ motifs of myth and religiosity in trying to find meaning in Satoshi’s disappearance. His absence allows for multiple interpretations of how the Bitcoin brand is viewed and adopted by a diverse community of enthusiasts.
Implications: Our findings provide a richer understanding of how, in a period of celebrity brands, Satoshi Nakamoto’s anti-celebrity stance helps sustain the Bitcoin ecosystem.
Originality/value: Our analysis examines the nature of anonymity in our hyper-celebrity culture and the mystique of the anonymous creator that fuels modern-day myths for brands without owners.