Special Session Summary Adon't Fence Me In@: Consumers on the Edge of the Marketplace

[ to cite ]:
(1999) ,"Special Session Summary Adon't Fence Me In@: Consumers on the Edge of the Marketplace", in NA - Advances in Consumer Research Volume 26, eds. Eric J. Arnould and Linda M. Scott, Provo, UT : Association for Consumer Research, Pages: 158.

Advances in Consumer Research Volume 26, 1999      Page 158

SPECIAL SESSION SUMMARY

"DON'T FENCE ME IN": CONSUMERS ON THE EDGE OF THE MARKETPLACE

This session intends to bring together three papers that challenge the modernist notion of consumption, which is presented as a problem solving mechanism that helps consumers achieve higher goals. Though consumers are conceived by marketers as problem solvers who enjoy entering the marketplace in order to find products and services that will solve their problems, consumers in reality are defying this model. We refer to this defiance as consuming "on the edge" because they are seeking to create mores, decisions rules, and consumption patterns that stand outside marketing’s circumscribed parameters of "choice." This defiant project entails an ongoing process of creating (and recreating) new rules, communal values, and ideological structures that circumvent and subvert the conventional boundaries of mainstream consumption.

 

"MARKETING HERETICS: RESISTANCE IS/IS NOT FUTILE"

Mark Ritson, University of Minnesota

Susan Dobscha, Bentley College

This paper focuses on "marketing heretics," those people who hate marketing in its current form and actively defy the attempts made through marketing stimuli to influence their behavior. Unwilling to ascribe to the modernist interpretation of marketing as facilitator they see it instead as representative of meanings that they choose to reject and resist. The paper charts both the motivations that underpin consumer resistance and also the kinds of resistance tactics that marketing heresy results in.

 

"THE APATHETIC SHOPPERBWHO CARES?"

Stephen Brown, University of Ulster, Northern Ireland

This paper highlights an ignored group of people whose actions defy modernist notions of consumers as earnest problem solvers: apathetic shoppers. These people challenge the widely-held vision of the marketplace as a place where consumer problems are solved and dreams are made true. Brown’s study of autobiographical essays finds that many people are averse to shopping, finding great frustration in the act and extreme disappointment in not finding the desired items. Because of their lack of desirability as potential consumers, people who hate shopping are often ignored or downplayed in studies on the shopping experience, thus marginalizing their interactions with the marketplace.

 

"ANTI-MODERNIST CONSUMERS AND THE SYNCRETIC IDEOLOGY OF NATURAL HEALTH"

Craig Thompson, University of Wisconsin, Madison

Maura Troester, University of Wisconsin, Madison

This paper turns to people who seek out health care options that remain outside the institutional spaces of the mainstream medical establishment. The authors argue that consumers of natural health alternatives forge a syncretic ideological position that situates anti-modernist themes of nostalgia and therapeutic self-redemption in a postmodern project of liberatory consumption. Through this ideological system and its paradoxical embrace of a commodified philosophy of spiritual holism, these consumers locate their health care choices and bodies outside the institutional practices, treatment alternatives, and technocratic discourses that constitute the discursive space of the mainstream medical establishments.

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