Past events

2012 -2013

October 12th, 2012
Conventions of Coordination in the Interaction of Social Movements and Markets
Paul-Brian McInerney, Department of Sociology, University of Illinois at Chicago

“Conventions of coordination” is a concept from economic sociology that helps to account for coordination in a field or market while still recognizing that coordination is uncertain, dynamic, and influenced by diverse and competing interests. Conventions of coordination are implicit rules of engagement among collective and individual actors (for example, activists, social movements, and businesses) which emerge from ongoing interactions among these actors. For this presentation, Paul-Brien explained and discussed this concept, and will apply it to empirical material from a longitudinal study of the Circuit Rider technology movement and their ongoing interaction with NPower, a nonprofit technology assistance provider with powerful corporate partners. His analysis demonstrated how conventions of coordination emerge in producer markets for technology services in the nonprofit sector.


November 2nd, 2012
Consumers' Conceptualizations of Failure in a High-Risk Health-Related Service Context
Linda Tuncay-Zayer, Marketing Department, Loyola University, Cele Otnes, Department of Business Administration, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Eileen Fischer, Marketing Area, York University

For this session, Linda and Cele presented their research on high-risk consumption. Many services, particularly health-related services, can be considered high risk, in that despite the efforts of service providers, consumers may not attain the outcomes they hope to achieve. However, we know little about how consumers make sense of their experiences of failure in such contexts. Using data from informants engaged with various types of infertility services, they will offer a grounded typology of four ways consumers conceptualize failure. These are: Failure Inherent to the Service Context, Failure as a Mobilizing Frustration, Failure as Fated, and Failure as a Cue to Re-evaluate. They differentiated these conceptualizations by examining their underlying dimensions, thus broadening our understanding of failure in services marketing. They will highlighted the implications of these conceptualizations for providers by recommending ways to enhance the provider-consumer relationship.


December 7th, 2012
Cultural Branding in Semiotic Perspective: Theory and Practice
Laura Oswald, Founding Principal, Marketing Semiotics, Inc.

In this presentation Laura summarized her current research into theoretical and practical aspects of cultural branding. This work extends and refines topics she examines in Marketing Semiotics: Signs, Strategies, and Brand Value (Oxford 2012). THEORY: McCracken's (1986) theory of "meaning transfer" is a point of departure for this discussion because it raises important questions about the ways brands take on cultural meaning. By means of semiotic theory, Laura proposed a more complex account of the symbolic function of goods by accounting for the cognitive, psychic, and structural dimensions of meaning production. She emphasized the dialectical relationship between the culture system and the brand system in cultural branding, and puts in proper perspective the role of advertising in this process. In two important ways, Laura's approach to cultural branding extends the Structuralist tradition within Consumer Culture Theory formed by influences from Levi-Strauss (1967), Geertz (1973), and Douglas-Isherwood (1979). First, the semiotics of cultural branding advances knowledge on meaning production and reception. Second, it also accounts for the strategic function of advertising and consumer knowledge, i.e. to differentiate brands from competitors and create value in the marketplace. PRACTICE: To conclude, Laura presented a strategic semiotic analysis of Coca-Cola's social media campaign, "Move to the Beat of London 2012" and evaluates its relevance for cultural branding theory. © Laura Oswald


February 1st, 2013
A Cultural History of Shoplifting
Rachel Shteir, Theater School, DePaul University

In this presentation, Rachel discussed the research behind her latest book The Steal: A Cultural History of Shoplifting, as well as her findings. Dismissed by academia and the mainstream media, largely misunderstood, shoplifting has long been the territory of mischievous teenagers, tabloid television, and self-help gurus. And yet, shoplifting incurs remarkable real-life costs for retailers and consumers. As part of her discussion Rachel provided an historical tour of all things shoplifting and will make the case that shoplifting in its many guises is best understood as a reflection of our society, and of ourselves.


March 1st, 2013
The Maker Movement: Implications for Retailing Thought and Practice
Aric Rindfleisch, Department of Business Administration, University of Illinois

Retailing thought and practice is premised on the assumption that consumers visit retailers to search for and acquire objects produced by manufacturers. In essence, we assume that the acts of consuming and producing are conducted by separate entities. This unspoken yet familiar premise shapes the questions retail scholars ask and the way retail practitioners think about their industry. Although this assumption accurately depicted retailing since the Industrial Revolution, its relevance is being challenged by the emerging maker movement, in which a growing number of individuals are producing the objects they consume. For this discussion Aric examined this movement with a particular focus on the recent rise of desktop 3D printing. After discussing this new technology, he offered a conceptual classification of four distinct types of 3D printed objects and use this classification to inform a content analysis of over 400 of these objects. Based on this review and analysis, he will discussed the implications of this emerging movement for both retailing thought and practice. Plus, he demonstrated 3D printing in action by printing requests in real time!

Aric was selected as our first annual "drive-in" speaker--someone who does not live in the Chicago area but who lives within a reasonable driving distance and whose travel expenses are paid by our generous sponsors. Thanks to Alan Malter and his committee (Ashlee Humphreys and Michelle Weinberger) for choosing this year's speaker!


April 5th, 2013
Consumer Culture and the Black Middle Class
David Crockett, Division of Research, University of South Carolina

This research project was designed to excavate the life events and consumption of middle class African American families. David's project investigated African American families through the lens of everyday consumption, utilizing a series of life history interviews and observations of everyday life. Such a study has broad-reaching theoretical importance. More than any other group in the U.S., the origins of the black middle class’s emergence are concurrent with the explosion of modern (i.e., post-WWII) consumer culture. If one is to understand the black middle class’s post-war emergence, consumer culture must be part of the story. Yet surprisingly little is known about the role consumption plays in the lives of middle-class African Americans. As part of his presentation, David gave special consideration to the dynamic relationship between consumption and place. His discussion focused on an understanding of how the nature of consumption changes with movement across geographic space and throughout the family life cycle. Click here to view his presentation slides.

David was selected as our annual "fly-in" speaker--someone who does not live within driving distance of Chicago and whose travel expenses are paid by our generous sponsors. As is true every year, nominations and voting for the "fly in" speaker were open to everyone on the C4 mailing list. Thanks to all who participated!


May 3rd, 2013
In a New Grade, In a New Pair of Shoes: Child-Parent Negotiation in the Back-to-School Shoe Shopping Ritural
Katherine C. Sredl, Mendoza College of Business, University of Notre Dame, Ruzica Butigan, Faculty of Economics, University of Zagreb

Consumer behavior researchers tend to view consumer socialization as the effect of adult activity on children. Because of this longstanding emphasis on the child as a passive participant in the socialization process, the experience of what it is like for the child to participate in consumption practices is rarely explored. In consumer behavior research, socialization is rarely theorized as a collective process that occurs socially, in which children learn, produce, and re-produce meanings through participating in consumer rituals. In this research on the ritual of back to school shoe shopping, Katherine focused on consumer socialization as a process of parent-child interaction, from the perspectives of children and parents. She defined the stages of the ritual and illuminate the process of parent-child negotiation and its outcomes for purchase. As part of her discussion, she demonstrated that children re-appropriate the evaluative frameworks of their parents and refer to the consumption of their peers in articulating desires as they actively participate in parental-guided consumption.