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Consumer Culture Theoretics
Consumer Culture: Definitions • Consumer culture is a social arrangement in which the relation between lived experience and social resources, between meaningful ways of life and the symbolic and material resources on which they depend, is mediated through markets. Marketized resources Consumption meanings, routines, identities, values,
Domain of Consumer Behavior Acquiring Individuals or Groups receiving finding inheriting producing learning deciding purchasing Using PRODUCTS SERVICES IDEAS EXPERIENCES collecting nurturing cleaning preparing Disposing displaying storing wearing sharing selling giving throwing away recycling depleting
Four Research Levels • • Consumer Identity Projects Marketplace Cultures The Socio-historic Patterning of Consumption Mass-Mediated Marketplace Ideologies and Consumers’ Interpretive Strategies
Consumer Identity Projects • What is the key question driving this program of research? • What does it mean to be, in the full ontological sense of the term, a consumer? • CCT is concerned with the co-constitutive, co-productive ways in which consumers, working with marketer-generated materials forge a coherent, if diversified and sometimes fragmented sense of self • Consumers are conceived of as identity makers. • The study of consumer identity projects meshes quite well with consumer research’s more traditional interest in consumer goals and motives
The Value of Brands What people may say What they do
Fitting In, Standing Out
Example: Digital Selves • In their work on digital selfpresentation Schau and Gilly (2003) show consumers use brands and hyperlinks to create multiple, non-linear cyber identities.
Example: Quantified Selves • The QS movement is driven by people – generally young, affluent and technologically savvy (Nafus and Sherman 2014), and most often male, Caucasian, and heterosexual (Lupton 2016 b) – that utilized wearable technologies for self-tracking. They identify as self-trackers and track their own personal measurements in detail. The measurements include heart rates, blood pressure, sleep patterns, distances and directions of travel, and moods at intervals throughout the day, all for the purpose of individual self-understanding and self-improvement (Wolf 2010; Nafus and Sherman 2014; Pantzar and Ruckenstein 2015; Lupton 2016 b). Swan (2013) defines the quantified self as “any individual engaged in the self-tracking of any kind of biological, physical, behavioral, or environmental information. There is a proactive stance toward obtaining information and acting on it” (85). • Beth Leavenworth Du. Fault & John W. Schouten (2018): Self quantification and the datapreneurial consumer identity, Consumption Markets & Culture, DOI: 10. 1080/10253866. 2018. 1519489
Marketplace Cultures • What is the key research question driving this program of research? • How does the emergence of consumption as a dominant human practice reconfigure the foundations of culture, and vice versa? • The consumer is conceived of as a culture producer. • CCT explores the heterogeneous distribution of meanings and the multiplicity of overlapping cultural groupings that exist within the broader socio-historic frame of globalization and market capitalism. This distributed view of cultural emphasizes the dynamics of fragmentation, plurality, fluidity, and the intermingling (or hybridization) of cultural traditions and ways of life
Marketplace Cultures • Groups form around mutual goals and through different stages of group formation usually develop to share mutual norms which are an important antecedent for group cohesion (Tuckman, 1965). The process of group cohesion is revealed in the tendency of a group of people to stay together and pursue some instrumental objectives, and thus, reciprocally benefit from the social community (Carron & Brawley, 2000). Becoming a member of a social community may thus lead to individuals being affected by the social influence from others.
Examples • In his foundational work, Hebdige (1979) showed how subcultural consumption exhibits an ongoing structured opposition to dominant culture as well as internal oppositions between socially approved behaviors and negatively sanctioned stereotypes • Kates (2002) showed subcultural consumption is a sort of ongoing socialization process, and conspicuously conscious. Further, status is achieved not through adherence to monolithic consumption norms, but through the combinatorial inventiveness and semiotic playfulness.
Examples are Legion
Example: MMORPGs Fortnite
Example Gamification • The gamification approach has been harnessed and studied, for example, in the domains of • Education; • Commerce; • Health and exercise; • Intra-organizational communication and activity; • Government services; • Public engagement; • Environmental behavior; • Marketing and advertising; and • Activities such as crowdsourcing.
Games Built on Insider Cultural Knowledge
The Socio-historic Patterning of Consumption • What is the key research question driving the third dimension of CCT research? • The dominant research problem is what is consumer society? • This research addresses the reciprocal relationships between institutional and social structures that systematically influence consumption and consumers’ experiences, belief systems and practices that mold these underlying institutional and social structures. • These “structures” include social categories of age, gender, status, race, religion, and so on. • Consumers are conceived of as performers of social roles and positions.
Socio-historic patterning of consumption • Researchers delving into this sea change toward a dataist society characterize it as a new ontology and epistemology in which people sensemake, and communicate about their sensemaking, within social structures that are increasingly quantified and quantifying (Lupton 2016 a, 2016 b, 2016 c; Ruckenstein and Pantzar 2017). In other words, we are now required to, and are learning how to, see ourselves represented as numbers or scores and to accept those numbers as real indicators of who we are. • Beth Leavenworth Du. Fault & John W. Schouten (2018): Sel quantification and the datapreneurial consumer identity, Consumption Markets & Culture, DOI: 10. 1080/10253866. 2018. 1519489
Class and Consumer Choice • Allen’s (2002) research on the socio-historic patterning of working class consumers’ choices and, and concomitant social immobility, tends to reproduce patterns and orientations grounded in respective socialization histories.
Gender and Consumer Choice
Example: Avatars and Social Roles • Ninety-four participants created two avatars to be used in different contexts (video game and job-themed social network). Moreover, two groups of participants were told that they would have met friends or total strangers within the two virtual contexts. • Results showed that avatars changed from the game to the job context. • Changes involved avatars’ transient features (Clothes) more than physical (Body) and symbolic (Accessories) ones, and females changed accessories more than males. Moreover, females who expected to meet friends changed their avatars’ bodies significantly more than males in both virtual contexts. • Triberti, Stefano, Ilaria Durosini, Filippo Aschieri, Daniela Villani and Giuseppe Riva 1 (2017), Changing Avatars, Changing Selves? The Influence of Social and Contextual Expectations on Digital Rendition of Identity, Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking, 20 (8), 501 -507.
Gender and Racial Stereotypes in Gaming
Mass-Mediated Marketplace Ideologies and Consumers’ Interpretive Strategies • What are the fundamental questions guiding this fourth CCT research program? • What normative messages do commercial media transmit about consumption? • How do regimes of consumption become legitimate? • How do consumers’ make sense of consumption norms and also formulate critical responses? • The concept of ideology and consumers’ relationships to ideological influences is thus a fourth current of CCT research. • Consumers are conceived of as interpretive agents.
Digital Consumer Activism • Kozinets and Handelman (2004) develop understanding of new consumer activist movements. • These movements seek to change the ideology of consumerism through transformations both in corporate and consumer behaviors. • Their approach contrasts with prior theory on consumer activism that construes it as concerned primarily with functional change in corporate behaviors or the venting of frustration.
Mobile moralities • Ethical consumption apps • Political flashmobbing • Tracking the police • Political tactics for non political claims • Social activism or individual fan indulgence?