Selected Accepted Journal Articles
Thompson, C. & Ustuner, T. (2015). Women Skating on the Edge: Marketplace Performances as Ideological Edgework. Journal of Consumer Research
Thompson, C. (2013). Russ Belk’s (Belkian) Perspective on Discipline and Liberation in Consumption: A Convergence of the Cosmopolitan and the Carnivalesque —Editor’s Introduction,”. Legends in Consumer Behavior—Russell Belk, Vol. 9: Discipline and Liberation in Consumption
Tambyah, S. & Thompson, C. (2012). Social Branding and the Mythic Re-Invention of Ethnic Identity,”.
Identity and Consumption
In this chapter, we analyze consumers’ ethnic identifications as a social brand that is constructed and promoted through a network of family myths. Our participants’ mythic reinvention of ethnic identity manifests a subtle reaction against the democratizing tendencies of the consumer culture’s identity market. Through these myths, our participants’ construct their ethnic identity as a deeply rooted, familial connection to their immigrant history. However, consumers’ relationships to this social brand vary across generations, sometimes contentiously so, owing to different viewpoints on how to best maintain the authenticity of this social brand.
Thompson, C. “Out of Morris Holbrook’s Aesthetics of Consumption Symbolism”. Legends in Marketing—Morris Holbrook, Volume 9, Qualitative Methods, Part II: Symbolic Consumer Behavior or Consumption Symbolism, ed. Alan Bradshaw, Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications, forthcoming.
Thompson, C. “How Community Supported Agriculture Facilitates a Re-embedding and Re-territorializing of Sustainable Consumption Practices. Sustainable Lifestyles and the Quest for Plenitude: Case Studies of the New Economy,, 125-147.
Thompson, C. Cooperative Networks, Participatory Markets, and Rhizomatic Resistance: Situating Plenitude within Contemporary Political-economy Debates,. Sustainable Lifestyles and the Quest for Plenitude: Case Studies of the New Economy,, 233-249.
Thompson, C. Practicing Plenitude: An Introduction,”. Sustainable Lifestyles and the Quest for Plenitude: Case Studies of the New Economy,, 1-25.
Thompson, C. & Arnould, E. Writing Consumer Culture, Writing B-School,”. Sourcebook of Anthropology in Business, 116-134.
Selected Published Journal Articles
Coskuner-Balli, G. & Thompson, C. (2013). The Status Costs of Subordinate Cultural Capital: At-Home Fathers’ Collective Pursuit of Cultural Legitimacy through Capitalizing Consumption Practices.
Journal of Consumer Research
Consumer researchers have primarily conceptualized cultural capital either as an endowed stock of resources that tend to reproduce socio-economic hierarchies among consumer collectivities or as constellations of knowledge and skill that consumers acquire by making identity investments in a given consumption field. These studies, however, have given scant attention to the theoretical distinction between dominant and subordinate forms of cultural capital, with the latter affording comparatively lower conversion rates for economic, social, and symbolic capital. To redress this oversight, we present a multi-method investigation of middle-class men who are performing the emergent gender role of at-home fatherhood. We profile and theoretically elaborate upon a set of capitalizing consumption practices through which at-home fathers seek to enhance the conversion rates of their acquisitions of domesticated (and subordinate) cultural capital and, to build greater cultural legitimacy for their marginalized gender identity.
(40), 19-41. doi: 10.1086/668640.
Thompson, C. & Ustuner, T. (2012). How Marketplace Performances Produce Interdependent Status Games and Contested Forms of Symbolic Capital.
Journal of Consumer Research
Consumer researchers have commonly analyzed marketplace performances as liminal events structured by context-specific role playing, norms of reciprocity, and cocreative collaborations. As a consequence, this literature remains theoretically mute on questions related to the sociological disparities that arise when marketplace performances forge relationships between affluent consumers and underclass service workers: a circumstance becoming increasingly commonplace owing to trends in the service-oriented global economy. To redress this gap, we analyze how such sociocultural differences are manifested and mediated in the provisions of skilled marketplace performances. Building upon Bourdieu’s logic of field analysis, our resulting theoretical framework illuminates a network of structural relations that reconfigures the asymmetrical distribution of class-based resources between these class factions. Rather than being cooperative endeavors conducive to the formation of commercial friendships, we show that these class-stratified marketplace performances produce interdependent status games, subtly manifested power struggles, and contested forms of symbolic capital.
(38), 796-814. doi: 10.1086/660815.
Thompson, C. (2011). Understanding Consumption as Political and Moral Practice.
Journal of Consumer Culture
This special issue of the Journal of Consumer Culture addresses the complex intersections and interrelationships that exist among everyday consumption practices, broader ideological structures, and moralistically infused citizenship ideals. The politicized marketplace relationships (and recursive effects) that emanate from these intersections are not reducible to conventional dichotomies between the marketplace and the body politic or between consumption and civic engagement. Building upon this insight, the articles in this special issue cast new theoretical light on how political ideologies and moralistic narratives — often reproducing entrenched class, gender, and racial hierarchies — are institutionalized and contested through consumption practices.
(11), 139-144. doi: 10.1177/1469540511403892.
Arsel, Z. & Thompson, C. (2011). Demythologizing Consumption Practices: How Consumers Protect their Field-Dependent Capital from Devaluing Marketplace Myths.
Journal of Consumer Research
Marketplace myths are commonly conceptualized as cultural resources that attract consumers to a consumption activity or brand. This theoretical orientation is prone to overstating the extent to which consumers' identity investments in a field of consumption are motivated by an associated marketplace myth. We provide a theoretical corrective to this tendency by investigating consumers who have become vested in a commercially mythologized consumption field through an incremental process of building social connections and cultural capital. For these consumers, the prevailing marketplace myth Is experienced as a trivialization of their aesthetic interests, rather than as a source of identity value. In response, they employ demythologizing practices to insulate their acquired field-dependent social and cultural capital from devaluation. Our findings advance theorizations concerning marketplace myths and consumer identity work and explicate the sociocultural forces that deter consumers from abandoning a consumption field that has become culturally associated with undesirable meanings.
(37), 791-806. doi: 10.1086/656389.
Thompson, C. (2010). Consumer Identity Work as Moral Protagonism: How Myth and Ideology Animate a Brand- Mediated Moral Conflict.
Journal of Consumer Research
Consumer researchers have tended to equate consumer moralism with normative condemnations of mainstream consumer culture. Consequently, little research has investigated the multifaceted forms of identity work that consumers can undertake through more diverse ideological forms of consumer moralism. To redress this theoretical gap, we analyze the adversarial consumer narratives through which a brand-mediated moral conflict is enacted. We show that consumers’ moralistic identity work is culturally framed by the myth of the moral protagonist and further illuminate how consumers use this mythic structure to transform their ideological beliefs into dramatic narratives of identity. Our resulting theoretical framework explicates identity-value–enhancing relationships among mythic structure, ideological meanings, and marketplace resources that have not been recognized by prior studies of consumer identity work.
(36), 1016-1032. doi: 10.1086/644761.
Thompson, C. (2007). Enchanting Ethical Consumerism: The Case of Community Supported Agriculture. Journal of Consumer Culture
(7), 275-300. doi: 10.1177/1469540507081631.
Thompson, C. (2007). A Carnivalesque Approach to the Politics of Consumption. The ANNALS of the American Academy of Political and Social Science
(408), 112-125. doi: 10.1177/0002716207299303.
Thompson, C. & Anrould, E. & Giesler, M. Discursivity, Difference, and the Destabilizing Departures of Dirty Theory: Genealogical Reflections on the CCT Heteroglossia.
We offer a genealogical perspective on the reflexive critique that CCT has institutionalized a hyperindividualizing, overly agentic, and sociologically impoverished mode of analysis that impedes systematic investigations into the historical, ideological, and sociological shaping of marketing, markets and consumption systems. Our analysis shows that the CCT pioneers embraced the humanistic/experientialist discourse to carve out a disciplinary niche. However, this original epistemological orientation has long given rise to a multi-layered CCT heteroglossia that features a broad range of theorizations integrating structural and agentic levels of analysis. We close with a discussion of how reflexive debates over CCT’s supposed biases towards the agentic that reproduce symbolic distinctions between North American and European scholarship styles and thus primarily reflect the institutional interests of those positioned in the Northern hemisphere. As CCT further integrates discourses from postcolonial and Southern theory scholars, reflexive analyses are now shifting in a direction that more fully recognizes the distinctive theoretical, contextual, and institutional interests of scholars located in the global South. By destabilizing the North-South, center-periphery relations of power that have long framed metropole social science constructions of the marginalized cultural “other” as an object of study—rather than as a producer of legitimate knowledge and theory—the CCT heteroglossia can be further diversified and enriched through a blending of historical, material, critical, and experiential perspectives which Connell characterizes as dirty theory.
(13), 149-174. doi: 10.1177/1470593113477889.
Thompson, C. The Politics of Consumer Identity Work. Journal of Consumer Research