Consumer Rebellion & Compliance

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  • Created on: 04-05-18 00:11

Culture: Recap

  • "The total of the inherited ideas, beliefs, values & knowledge which constitute the shared basis of social action" (Schiffman & Kanuk, 1994) 
  • The artistic & social pursuits, expression & tastes valued by a society or class" (Collins English Disctionary 1994)
  • "The accumulation of shared meanings, rituals, norms & traditions among the members of an organisation or society" (Solomon, 2001) 
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  • Culture as blueprint
  • Norms prescribe acceptable actions
  • Group or societally based
  • Conscious & subconscious influence
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What is the norm?

A Norm is characterised by; 

  • A set of rules forming a reference framework
  • An authority originating the standard
  • A sanction from which results an opposition between what is marginal and what is mainstream
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Authority & Sanctions

  • Authority bears standard of norm (traditionally) 
  • Sanctions help to define deviance
  • Might refer to formal punishment
  • Equally social disapproval is a sanction

- Withdrawal of support or resources

- Exclusion from sites or places

- Other?

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What is the norm?

Norms are fluid & dynamic (in the same sense as culture)

  • Subject to change over time - past deviances (LGBT, Rock Music) are today considered normal and previously acceptable behaviour has become criminalised
  • Deviant consumer activities can become mainstream options
  • Vice Versa
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Subcultures create own norms

  • Subcultures potentially considered 'abnormal' 
  • Strong group norms
  • Arbiter Shifts
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  • Conforming or yielding - To expected modes of behaviour, dress, music, sport, fashions, tech...
  • Accepting norms
  • Following typical consumption patterns
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Conventional Consumption

  • Typical relational exchange w/ company
  • Payment for good or service
  • Respect for other parties
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Anomie (Durkheim 1893, Merton 1963)

  • Conformists have means to achieve normative goals
  • Lack of means creates a contradiction
  • Anomie = deviance arising from this discrepancy 
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What is deviant behaviour?

Becker (1963) 

  • Transaction between social group & individ
  • Individ violates norms
  • Group Sanctions

Goffman (1975) 

  • Deviates from expectation
  • Regrettable definition
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Deviance as crime

Initial work on deviance concentrated on criminality E.g. 

  • Destruction of property
  • Physical/Psychological harm - Abuse, intimidation or physical/psychological victimisation of other consumer's & company's personnel 
  • Theft - Material loss, including various forms of insurance/credit card fraud/shoplifting
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Challenging societies norms

  • Innovation: Attempts to modify norms - expresses the way certain people engage in deviant behaviour because they seek to modify society's cultural structure in order to improve it (e.g. Militants) or use ilegitimate means to obtain what they want (e.g. shoplifters) 
  • Ritualism: Choice not to pursue prescribed goals - the subject envisages his existence within the restrictive framework of norms and abandon legitimate goals (e.g. reducing/rejecting consumption through simplicity). 
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Challenging Societies Norms

  • Rebellion: Rejection of goals in favour of new social order - A strong form of deviance in reaction to the existing order, the subject rejects existing goals and means and seeks to replace them so as to create a new social order.
  • Retreatism: Rejection of goals and withdrawal from society - Rejection of culturally prescribed goals/means then a person becomes asocial or antisocial and withdraws from society.
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Levels of Deviance

Deviance manifests on different levels 

  • Micro-social Level (e.g. immediate, social environment) 
  • Macro-social levels (e.g. Wider social structure and system) 
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Deviance as Pathology

Pathological deviance concerns consumer acts that are

  • Impulsive
  • Compulsive

"Beyond what is qualitatively or quantitatively deemed "normal" in a society

During act of consumption, deviant behaviour refers to quantitative (volume of consumption culturally viewed as abnormal) & qualitative (nature & characteristics of the goods consumed levels of satisfaction) 

Buddon & Griffin, 1996

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Deviance as Pathology Examples

  • Shoplifting
  • Impulse Buying
  • Binge Drinking
  • Eating Disorders
  • Gambling
  • Misuse of Products - e.g. Glue Sniffing
  • Fraudulent Requests for Warranty Service
  • Purchase of Counterfeit Products
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Deviance as 'accepted'/tolerated

May be neither Criminal nor pathological 

Subtle rejection of norms/consumeris conventions e.g. trend setters

Norms incompatible with some people's self concept 

  • Brand communities e.g. Harley Davidson Riders
  • Consumer Subcultures e.g. Skaters
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Deviance as 'accepted'/tolerated Examples

Leisure Practices

  • Slipknot listeners
  • Parkour

Sport Consumption

  • Crossfit
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Deviance as source of capital

Cultural Chasm

Niche or deviant practices go mainstream

  • Starbucks or Costa
  • Patagonia or North Face
  • CROSSFIT or Yoga

Exemplifying the fluidity of cultural norms and conventions

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Deviant to accepted/conventional

  • Deviance & Mainstream culture
  • "If what starts as rebellious becomes mass, then its radical chic can easily be lost" (Gabriel & Lang, 2006) 
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Rebellion as 'High Fashion'

Particular ways of looking, talking, walking, hairstyles and dressing can function as icons of disaffection and defiance e.g. 'Punks and skinheads' 

Use of products & services to express protest

Dr Martens - symbol of tough looking rebellion happens to be a branded commodity 

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Cultural Authority Perspective

Marketers shap attitudes and values which lead to consumer misbehaviour

This reflects the cultural authority perspective in which marketers are viewed as cultural engingeers with strong abilities and use of persuasive marketing communications. 

They shape consumer desires/feeling/actions

Promote a consumer culture where consumers grant authority to marketers to organise their tastes 

Holt, 2002

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Cultural Authority Perspective

Consumers fight back by allocating products/by using them in idiosyncratic (individual) ways

Seek out social spaces to produce our own culture and identity

Consumers feel rebellious when there is a large perceived gap between what a multinational company offers and their own needs/wants


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