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On market forces and adjustments : acknowledging consumer creativity through the aesthetics of 'debadging'

Hewer, Paul and Brownlie, Douglas (2010) On market forces and adjustments : acknowledging consumer creativity through the aesthetics of 'debadging'. Journal of Marketing Management, 26 (5-6). pp. 428-440. ISSN 0267-257X

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Abstract

This paper explores the social dynamics by means of which market forces are enacted at the level of everyday consumption. In particular, it draws on Holt's (2002) notion that as 'unruly bricoleurs', consumers kick-start processes of market adjustment and innovation through improvising ways to negotiate the demands of daily life. In this way, consumers can become active players in realising new possibilities for identity construction and empowerment that involve the creative re-appropriation of marketer-based meaning. To investigate those issues, we turn to a virtual community in the empirical setting of car customisation. Over an eight-month period, an internet-based methodology generated textual observations of online posting activity on five internet newsgroups attracting those interested in the particular pursuit of car modification. Participants used those web-forums to share information, passions, and enthusiasms. Analysis shows that grounded aesthetics function as vehicles for creativity and the reworking of dominant market logics (Vargo & Lusch, 2004). We conclude that online discussion threads offer valuable access to the emergent interplay of discursive resources in circulation among virtual communities and that this has implications for the conduct of environmental scanning. The paper illustrates how the discursive resource-base is nurtured, sustained, and transformed through various interpellations, including performing claims to prestige and self-defining distinctions, as well as constructing narratives of personal history and social dynamics.