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Assumed empowerment: Consuming services in the knowledge economy

Newholm, T. and Laing, A. and Hogg, G.M. (2006) Assumed empowerment: Consuming services in the knowledge economy. European Journal of Marketing, 40 (9-10). pp. 944-1012. ISSN 0309-0566

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Abstract

This paper considers the notion of consumer empowerment across the financial, legal and medical service sectors in the UK. Although the advent of the internet is generally seen as potentially enabling consumer empowerment, theoretical papers divide on the question of efficacy. On the one hand, it is argued the much-vaunted internet opportunity must not be simply taken as evidence of change in the consumer-producer relationship. On the other the change must not be unquestioningly be taken as advantageous to the consumer. The paper supports the contention that empowerment is partial and unevenly distributed among consumers. It is argued that characterisations of consumer indifference and producer discipline as preventing effective empowerment are too simplistic. Additionally, any taboo restraining the questioning of professional judgement is largely absent from the assumption of choice and of recognition/respect among the consumers participating in the research.