An Existential Analysis of Consumers As “Incarnated Beings”: a Merleau-Pontyian Perspective

As consumer research continues to be dominated by a ‘disembodied’ perspective predicated on the ‘mind-centred’ school of cognitive psychology, it has also witnessed the growing prominence of interpretive research, for example Consumer Culture Theory (CCT). As such, the field has begun to embrace the idea of consumers as incarnated beings, whose embodied experience sutures them to their lifeworld in a particular time and space. This paper proposes that the existential-phenomenology of Maurice Merleau-Ponty illuminates the richest account of the body as the experiential locus of existence and knowledge. As such it provides consumer researchers with a fertile ground on which to theorize consumers from an embodied standpoint. This paper will explore several concepts of Merleau-Pontyian’s phenomenology including (1) the body-subject (2) perception as a perspectival mode of embodied engagement (3) the phenomenal body (4) corporeal schema and the enfleshment of material possessions (5) habitual schema (6) intersubjectivity and (7) situated freedom and embodied projects. In so doing, we will be able to provide insights for an embodied re-reading of various theories including self-identity, materialism and the dialogical relationships between structure-agency and therefore address the quiet presence of the body within consumer research.


Ai-Ling Lai, Janine Dermody, and Stuart Hanmer-Lloyd (2007) ,"An Existential Analysis of Consumers As “Incarnated Beings”: a Merleau-Pontyian Perspective", in E - European Advances in Consumer Research Volume 8, eds. Stefania Borghini, Mary Ann McGrath, and Cele Otnes, Duluth, MN : Association for Consumer Research, Pages: 381-389.


Ai-Ling Lai, University of Gloucestershire, United Kingdom
Janine Dermody, University of Gloucestershire, United Kingdom
Stuart Hanmer-Lloyd, University of Gloucestershire, United Kingdom


E - European Advances in Consumer Research Volume 8 | 2007

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