Culture of consumption of car afficionados: aesthetics and consumption communities

Brownlie, D. and Hewer, P.A. (2007) Culture of consumption of car afficionados: aesthetics and consumption communities. International Journal of Sociology and Social Policy, 27 (3/4). pp. 106-119. (

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The purpose of this paper is to explore the virtual consumption communities which cohere around the object of the car. Focusing upon the cultural practice of debadging, the paper intends to reveal forms of connectivity and resistance within communities of car customization. Design/methodology/approach - A netnography in the form of non-participant observation is used to explore the talk of car aficionados around issues of customization and affiliation. Findings - The paper discusses the importance of internet discussion boards as forums for the exchange of information and advice, but also as a site to express their passion for cars and their affiliation with like-minded others. The research reveals that the question of aesthetics is a significant one for car aficionados. This enables us to theorize such consumers as akin to designers for whom the discussion boards exist as key reference points. Research limitations/implications - This is an exploratory study and its primary limitation is one of scope and method. Netnography provides access to web-based communication. In this sense, a novel channel of access to new forms of expression and ways of doing social relations is employed. Clearly, the insights generated from this study are mediated by the character of the empirical site and the limits of non-participatory netnography. Originality/value - The originality of the paper resides in its attempt to theorize the significance of the cultural practice of debadging as a key constituent in community-formation.