Past Events

2017 - 2018 

November 3rd, 2017, 12:00 - 1:130
[/] Meaning and Difference
Laura Oswald, Marketing Semiotics

For this session, Laura spoke about the broad paradigmatic significance of the slash joining/separating signifier and signified in semiotic theory. The [/] figure underlies the cognitive, discursive, and rhetorical dimensions of meaning production and provides rich terrain for exploring the fundamentals of semiotics, including code theory, binarism, the semiotic square and deconstruction. Theory elaboration formed the foundation for a discussion of the importance of semiotics for consumer research in areas such as strategy, cultural branding, multicultural marketing, and innovation.


February 2nd, 2018, 12:00 - 1:30
Jeitinho Brasileiro: Understanding Financial Vulnerability from a Cultural Perspective
Nancy Wong, School of Human Ecology, The University of Wisonsin-Madison

Building on the concept of social capital, Nancy discussed and explored the financial vulnerability phenomenon in Brazil from the perspective of Jeitinho Brasileiro, a way of getting things done by means of personal relationships widely used in a country that is characterized by institutional inefficiency. Analysis of 21 in-depth interviews provided a unique context in showing how this indigenous construct shapes marketplace and consumer practices creating a mutually reinforcing cycle of financial dependency and vulnerability. A socio-ecological framework highlighted how the interactions between personal characteristics (microsystem spheres) and marketplace practices and social structures (meso and macrosystem spheres) may lead individuals to experience or avoid financial vulnerability. In general, the way informants use their social capital shapes resistance against marketplace and financial management behaviors.


March 2nd, 2018, 12:00 - 1:30
Technological Innovation and Marketplace Sentiments in Market Legitimation
Laetitia Mimoun, Marketing Department, HEC Paris, Lez Trujillo Torres, Marketing Department, University of Illinois Chicago, Francesca Sobande, Edge Hill University Business School

For this discussion, Lez discussed her research (with Laetitia and Francesca) on legitimation. Legitimation is a key process in the creation, maintenance, and evolution of markets. However, scant attention has been provided to non-human actors, such as technology, in this process. Lez and her co-authors argue that technological innovation influences legitimation through the (re)production of marketplace sentiments, which refer to “emotional dispositions toward marketplace elements” that are “collective, enduring, and proactive” (Gopaldas 2014, 995). Based on a multi-method historical approach to examining Assisted Reproductive Technologies innovation, Lez argued that in markets based on high-failure and high-risk technologies, consumers and news media (re)produce marketplace sentiments. These sentiments, intertwined with temporality and materiality, influence the acceptability of discourses and the normative legitimation of the markets. Lez discussed how marketplace sentiments create an ambivalent context which aids scientific democratization, embracement of failure, discount of sacrifices, and deflection of risk by influencing the affective processing of innovation. This research contributes to the literature on marketplace sentiments by evidencing their role in dynamic and interrelated efforts of marketplace actors. It also advances the view of technology innovation as a sociocultural historical force which shapes legitimation, beyond its current conceptualization as a resource.


April 6th, 2018, 12:00 - 1:30
Theorizing and Illuminating a Belonging Framework for Brand Communities
Robert A. Arias, University of Illinois, Champaign

Consumer research on belonging primarily focuses on how people fulfill their need to belong in the marketplace after confronting a belonging threat such as social exclusion. For this research presentation, Robert will demonstrate that linkages between consumption and belonging accomplish more than merely alleviating ostracism. This work (co-authored with Cele Otnes) investigates how individuals proactively leverage consumption activities to pursue belonging-related social outcomes through a longitudinal, eleven-month ethnographic study. As part of his presentation, Robert introduced a belonging framework (BF) for brand communities. Empirically, an ethnographic dataset of a college honors program supports his insights. He described the BF, delineate its critical elements, and offer theorization regarding how it manifests in a consumption domain. The framework 1) helps explain how individuals deliberately leverage consumption to facilitate belongingness pursuits; 2) illuminates a spectrum of belonging/consumption phenomena beyond threats to the need to belong; and 3) integrates extant and novel constructs rooted in psychological and sociological belonging research.


May 4th, 2018, 12:00 - 1:30
Now You See Them, Now You Don’t: What Happens When Person Brands become Highly Visible Strategic Employees?
Marie-Agnès Parmentier, Department of Marketing, HEC Montréal

The phenomenon of turnover among the ranks of designers at luxury fashion houses has attracted much attention from the fashion press. Does it have something to teach marketing scholars? Drawing on Bourdieu’s field theory, Marie-Agnès argued that exploring the phenomenon of turnover among highly visible strategic employees (HVSEs) such as these designers provides an opportunity to expand our understanding of an important, yet under-studied marketing phenomena: person brands. While in recent years we have learned much about how such brands are built (e.g., Parmentier, Fischer and Reuber 2013; Sjöholm and Pasquinelli 2014), we know less about what happens when a person brand becomes the employee of an established firm with a well-recognized brand heritage. In this work (co-authored with Eileen Fischer), Marie-Agnès finds that while it may seem that turnover is costly and/or undesirable for both person brands and the firms that hire employees in highly visible strategic positions, rapid turnover may be happening because there are benefits to short term affiliations for both parties.

Marie-Agnès 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!