My research involves the meanings of possessions, collecting, gift-giving, sharing, and materialism. This work is often cultural, visual, qualitative, and interpretive. By understanding what our possessions mean to us after we acquire them, how different cultures, past and present, regard consumption, and how we relate to each other through possessions, it is my belief that we learn something more profound and practical than simply asking how we evaluate alternative marketplace offerings. In a consumer society, our ideas about ourselves are often bound up or represented in what we desire, what we own, and how we use these things.
2017 Emerald Citation of Excellence
2018 Best Paper, 2nd Place, LVMH-SMU Luxury Research Conference
2017 Distinguished Visiting Professor, University of South Australia
2017 Royal Society of Canada Fellow
2016 Best 2015 Paper, Journal of Marketing Management, “The Rise of Inconspicuous Consumption,” with Giana Eckhardt and Jonathan Wilson
2016 Best Paper, Consumer Culture Theory Conference, “Collections and Collecting in a Digital Age,” with Rebecca Watkins
2016 Best Paper, Fifth International Business Anthropology Conference, Beijing, “Consumers in an Age of Autonomous Robots”
2016 Highly Commended Paper, Journal of Arts Marketing, Emerald Literati Network Awards for Excellence, “Videography in Marketing Research: Mixing Art and Science,” with Christine Petr and Alain Decrop
2016 Runner-up Best Paper, Journal of Consumer Research
2015 Best Marketing Paper EnAnPad Conference, XXXIX, with Ronan Quintæo and Eliane Brito
2014 York University Distinguished Research Professor
2013-2016 Honorary Visiting Professor, University of Exeter
2013 First Level Prize, International Conference on Anthropological Perspectives and Local Approaches: Indigenous Applications in Management and Marketing, Shanghai
2013 Inaugural recipient of Dean's Research Impact Award, Schulich School of Business, York University
2013 Society of Marketing Advances Distinguished Marketing Scholar Award
2012 Best Professor in Marketing, World Education Congress
2012 Emerald 2012 Award for Excellence 'Highly Commended Paper'
2011 Sidney Levy Award Runner-up with Gülnur Tumbat
2010 Universidad de los Andes School of Management Corona Chair, Distinguished Visitor's Program
2009 Sidney Levy Award Runner-up with Xin Zhao
2007-2009 Distinguished Visiting Scholar, Hong Kong University
2006 People’s Choice Award, Asia-Pacific Association for Consumer Research Film Festival
2005 Sheth Foundation/Journal of Consumer Research Award for Long Term Contribution to Consumer Research
2004 Paul D. Converse Award, American Marketing Association
2003-2006 Honorary Professor, Centrum för konsumentventskap (Center for Consumer Science) Göteborg University, Göteborg, Sweden
2000, 2002-2003, 2015-2016 Best Reviewer, Journal of Consumer Research
2001 Reviewer of the Year, Journal of Advertising
1998-2007 Honorary Professor, Hong Kong City University
1998-2000 Kinear Best Paper Award Nominee, Journal of Public Policy and Marketing
1995-2001 Foundation Visiting Research Professor
Belk, R. and Humayun, M. (Forthcoming), "The Analogue Diaries of Post-Digital Consumption", Journal of Marketing Management.
Even in a world that is saturated with the digital, we still seek out analogue objects. Drawing on concepts of postdigital aesthetics, we examine the use of analogue objects to escape the omnipresence of the digital realm. Based on consumer narratives from interview, archival, and netnographic data involving the use of analogue notebooks and film cameras, we derive the notion of postdigital consumption and analyse the ‘digital’ as a background object foregrounding the analogue. Our findings reveal ways in which consumers use these analogue objects to escape controlled consumption, to enchant their consumption with their labour, and to seek continuity and permanence, in navigating paradoxical relationships with the digital world.
Belk, R. (Forthcoming), "Post-pandemic consumption: portal to a new world?", Cadernos EBAPE.BR, 18(3).
Expert forecasts by consumer researchers and epidemiologists, consumer forecasts, and evidence from China are used to assess how consumer behavior will change after the pandemic subsides. Then hopes for bigger ideas are assessed including really addressing climate change, moving away from fossil fuels, addressing income inequality with a guaranteed income, and decoupling the economy from growth.
Belk, R., Chowdhury, H., Skålen, P. and Varman, R. (Forthcoming), "Normative Violence in Domestic Service: A Study of Exploitation, Status, and Grievability", Journal of Business Ethics.
This paper contributes to business ethics by focusing on consumption that is characterized by normative violence. By drawing on the work of Judith Butler this study of kajer lok—a female subaltern group of Indian domestic service providers—and their higher status clients shows how codes of status-based consumption shaped by markets, class, caste, and patriarchy create a social order that reduces kajer lok to “ungreivable” lives. Our study contributes to business ethics by focusing on exploitation and coercion in consumption rather than in production and of woman rather than of men. It adds to consumer research by revealing how social distinctions not only manifest in status contests in which symbolic power is at stake but also may produce violent exploitation and ungrievable lives.
Belk, R., Doherty, A. and Kerigan, F. (Forthcoming), "Marketing the Brave", European Journal of Marketing.
Belk, R. (Forthcoming), "Look East, Young Sojourner!", International Journal of Research in Marketing.
Belk, R. (Forthcoming), "Ethical Issues in Service Robotics and Artificial Intelligence", Services Industries Journal.Keywords
As we come to increasingly rely on robotic and Artificial Intelligence technologies, there are a growing number of ethical concerns to be considered by both service providers and consumers. This review concentrates on five such issues: (1) ubiquitous surveillance, (2) social engineering, (3) military robots, (4) sex robots, and (5) transhumanism. With the partial exception of transhumanism, all of these areas of AI and robotic service interaction already present ethical issues in practice. But all five areas will raise additional concerns in the future as these technologies develop further. These issues have serious consequences and it is imperative to research and address them now. I outline the relevant literatures that can guide this research. The paper fills a gap in recent work on AI and robotics in services. It expands views of service contexts involving robotics and AI, with important implications for public policy and applications of service technologies.
Belk, R. and Hollebeek, L. (Forthcoming), "Engagement-Facilitating Technology and Wellbeing: Positivist and Consumer Culture Theory Perspectives", International Journal of Research in Marketing.
Belk, R., Kozinets, R. and Weijo, H. (Forthcoming), "Enchantment and Perpetual Desire: Theorizing Disenchanted Enchantment and Technology Adoption", Marketing Theory.Keywords
“Dominant perspectives on technology adoption and consumption tend to be cognitive, instrumental, and individualistic. We offer a desire-centered, future-oriented, and culturally grounded alternative model called the Disenchanted Enchantment Model (DEM). Drawing on historical
evidence and revised interpretations of theories of enchantment and disenchantment by Weber and Saler, we show that desire is at the heart of technology consumption’s enchantments, and how its fulfilment is temporary, skeptical, and ironic. We provide an important cultural counterbalance to models such as the Technology Acceptance Model, which replace wonder with reason. Instead we theorize the process that drives contemporary technology adoption as centering on desirous senses of wonderment and anticipation. We offer current and recent examples of the DEM process and discuss the implications this model holds for a new understanding of technology, consumption, desire, and broader consumer culture.”
Belk, R. and Kapoor, V. (Forthcoming), "Coping and Career Choices: Irish Gay Men’s Passage from Hopelessness to Redemption", Consumption, Markets and Culture.
This study investigates the impact of systemic oppression on a marginalized group and their response to it through market-based choices of careers. The marginalized group consists of single, semi-closeted, middle-aged Irish gay men. Their lives have been severely impaired by the Catholic condemnation of homosexuality. Through an oral history approach and by considering the under-theorized intersection of religion, homosexuality, and career, our study shows the importance of the underlying process of coping. Our findings reveal that the study participants initially engaged in various forms of self-punishment amidst a state of hopelessness. This later led to their pursuit of altruistic careers through which they seemingly gained a sense of redemption. By delving into coping processes involving career choices, we show that altruism can be a means to cope with systemic oppression.
Belk, R., Emilie, R. and Clammer, J. (2021), "Localizing Taste: Using Metaphors to Understand Loctural Consumptionscapes", Food, Culture, and Society.
The globalization of consumption or discourses of glocalization and hybridization dominate the extant literature on “consumptionscapes”. We introduce the “loctural consumptionscape” as an alternative that is centered on products of local-origin and draw upon conceptual metaphor theory to examine an Indian socio-cultural metaphor – traditional-sweets-consumption-as-shubh (auspicious). This metaphor involves the consumption of locally produced traditional Indian sweets. We find that various conceptual associations and relationships comprise the metaphor and these can be categorized into four dimensions – occasion, form and production, relationships – personal and social, and value. We further note that the taste of and for traditional Indian sweets is a key cultural sensibility that inhabits these dimensions. We employ such understanding to offer a view that is socio-culturally driven and which as a localized system of meaning distinguishes the loctural from other consumptionscapes in mass-ties of a horizontal rather than those of a hierarchical nature. The paper engages with the literature on the globalization of consumption by showing that cases of local consumption need not be examples of either anti-globalization or of hybridization, but a case of a search for a sense of cultural identity and authenticity rooted in indigenous products, consumed on appropriate occasions.
Belk, R., Denegri-Knott, J., Jenkins, R. and Lindley, S. (2020), "What is Digital Possession and How to Study It: A Conversation with Russell Belk, Rebecca Mardon, Giana M. Eckhardt, Varala Maraj, Will Odom, Massimo Airoldi, Alessandro Caliandro, Mike Molesworth and Alessandro Gandini", Journal of Marketing Management, 36:9-10, 942-971.Keywords
The platformisation of digital consumption, means that increasingly many of the things that we call ours – our messages, photos, music, achievements – are entangled in complex socio-technical arrangements which require ongoing market mediation. In this context, refining our understanding of what digital possessions are and how to study them is vital. This requires refocusing research away from existing comparative analyses between digital and material possessions. To do so, we organized an interdisciplinary roundtable discussion with critical marketers and digital media scholars, consumer researchers, digital sociologists and researchers in Human Computer Interaction (HCI) at the 11th Interpretive Consumer Research Conference held in Lyon in May 2019. The result of that discussion is this curation of comments which deal with theoretical, methodological and critical issues and a bold agenda for future research.
Belk, R. (2020), "Resurrecting Marketing", Academy of Marketing Science Review, 10, 168-171.Keywords
Marketing lays dying, felled by two fatal blows: 1) the shift in control of brands from marketer to consumer; and 2) the shift of many marketing functions from marketing to Big Data, algorithms, and data analytics. To resurrect marketing, we need to fundamentally refocus on marketing in a digital age.
Belk, R. and Minowa, Y. (2020), "Qualitative Approaches to Life Course Research and Linking Life Story to Gift Giving", Journal of Global Scholars of Marketing Science, 30(1), 60-75.
This paper presents qualitative approaches to life course research and elucidates the benefits with data. While marketing research in general has gradually embraced the interpretive paradigm, the field of life course study in marketing has not widely enriched, fortified, or complemented their quantitative investigations with interpretive studies. Thus, this paper presents qualitative methods suitable for life course research. The paper reviews recent life course studies that employ qualitative methods. Data collection, analysis, and interpretation methods are addressed. Both benefits and limitations of the qualitative methods are discussed. We demonstrate how to apply and use the qualitative data to study life course issues and topics. As an illustration, we link a qualitative study of the gift giving of mature consumers in Japan to Moschis’ Conceptual Life Course Model and discuss the paradigmatic principles of life course theory. The paper concludes with opportunities for future research.
Belk, R., Joy, A. and Wang, J. (2020), "One Country, Two Systems: Consumer Acculturation of Hong Kong Locals", European Journal of Marketing, 4(1), 44221.
The purpose of this paper is to examine local consumers’ acculturation process as they observe, encounter and shop with an influx of outsiders.
Ambika, A., Belk, R., Jain, V. and Shelat, M. (2020), "Narratives Selves in the Digital World: An Empirical Investigation", Journal of Consumer Behaviour, 20(2), 368-380.Keywords
The digital era has led to the extension of self into virtual space, resulting in changes to consumption patterns. The existing academic landscape in this area focuses on Western perspectives, in the context of early‐stage digital interventions. However, the dynamic digital world demands a constant exploration to understand the corresponding influences on consumer behaviour across varied cultural contexts. This research focuses on unraveling newer dimensions of the digital self from non‐Western perspectives. We adopt an interpretive lens to understand the evolving nature of self through a grounded theory approach. The study establishes the presence of multiple independent narrative selves, co‐created with people, and technology. Each narrative addresses different segments of personal audiences, enabling new modes of self‐expression to overcome the challenges of digital expressions. Additionally, we highlight the exclusion of the digital presence of family in the formation of the narrative self. From a theoretical perspective, we extend and contrast the existing conceptualizations on self, such as dialogical selves, self‐extension and expansion, and the unified core self. Further, the practical implications emphasize the need for narrative analytic approaches to understanding consumers and avenues for brands to decode narratives, develop strategies to gain consumer attention, and become part of consumers’ narrative selves.
Belk, R., Hemetsberger, A., Walpach, S. and Thompson, T. (2020), "Moments of Luxury–A Qualitative Account of the Experiential Essence of Luxury", Journal of Business Research, 116, 491-502.
This study advances an unconventional perspective on the experiential essence of luxury, with the aim to uncover different types of luxury moments and shed light on their shared qualities and momentousness, independent of consumption styles or contexts. The findings of an interpretive study identify five types of luxury moments: interrupting, climactic, disrupting, ritualistic, and terminating. They differ in their temporal focus and degree of contrast to ordinary life, created through shared experiential qualities. These qualities set moments of luxury apart from other pleasurable moments, since moments of luxury are freeing, happy, perfect, scarce, caring, and exciting. The concept of luxury moments helps illuminate the essence of experiential luxury and unfolds in themes of growth and advancement, bliss and Eudaimonia, unity with the other, and awe and self-transcendence, thus adding to the understanding of the meaning of luxury in liquid times.
Belk, R., Rentschler, R., Hawkes, M. and Martin, B. (2020), "I Am the Old and the New1′: Aboriginal Arts in the Australian Art World, 1973-2018", Journal of Business Diversity, 20(2), 74-93.
This study addresses changing representations of Aboriginal arts by an arts agency since 1973. It examines whether representations correspond with transformed arts programs or whether they are a continuation of the historical appropriation of Aboriginal arts by colonial-settler Australians. The images contribute to a particular system of meanings, ongoing challenges and change. There are moral claims about efforts to demonstrate self-determination among marginalized Aboriginal peoples. Our findings challenge expectations about images of arts, artists, and people in artistic leadership roles, revealing complex factors shaping the Australian art world during the period in which settler-colonial cultural values regarding Aboriginal peoples have shifted.
Belk, R., Haruvy, E., Leszczyc, P., Allenby, G., Eckel, C., Fisher, F., Li, S., List, J., Ma, Y. and Wang, Y. (2020), "Fundraising Design: Key Issues, Unifying Framework, and Open Puzzles", Marketing Letters, 31, 371–380.
We offer a unified conceptual, behavioral, and econometric framework for optimal fundraising that deals with both synergies and discrepancies between approaches from Economics, Marketing, Psychology, and Sociology. The purpose is to offer a framework that can bridge differences and open a dialogue between disciplines in order to facilitate optimal fundraising design. The literature is extensive, and our purpose is to offer a brief background and perspective on each of the approaches, provide an integrated framework leading to new insights, and discuss areas of future research.
Belk, R., Joy, A., Wang, J. and Sherry, J. (2020), "Emotion and Consumption: Toward a New Understanding of Cultural Collisions between Hong Kong and PRC Luxury Consumers", Journal of Consumer Culture, 20(4), 578-597.Keywords
Incorporating Illouz’s theory of emotions, this study examines how specific emotions drive consumption, as embodied by escalating conflicts between Hong Kong and the PRC luxury consumers. When affluent Mainlanders pursue status signifiers via consumption of relatively affordable luxury goods in Hong Kong, local residents’ disdain triggers a nexus of emotions: envy, resentment, and status anxiety, linked to fears of being occupied by and assimilated into Chinese culture. Deploying cultural capital and status competition rooted in imagination and refinement, Hong Kongese contrast their knowledge-based use of luxury brands with the avid consumption of PRC visitors, fueled by often extreme wealth. For Hong Kongese, such one-upmanship degenerates into self-doubt and self-failure in their image management attempts, precipitating intense hostility toward PRC consumers. Emotions engender colliding notions of self, status, and cultural and political identity between these disparate yet intertwined cultures.
Belk, R., Holmqvist J., Hemetsberger, A., Walpach, S. and Thompson, T. (2020), "Conceptualizing Unconventional Luxury", Journal of Business Research, 116, 441-445.
How is luxury conceived in a modern and changing world? While luxury is a well-researched area in the domain of consumer goods, research on more consumer-focused forms of luxury is still nascent. Yet today luxury experiences drive the development of luxury markets and inconspicuous, private consumption of luxury is rising. In order to address these developments, this special issue moves beyond conventional understandings of luxury as involving conspicuous status consumption of tangible goods, and focuses instead on how consumers may experience, give, produce, or share luxury, and what luxuriousness implies. The various articles in the special issue addresses topics such as intangible services, hedonic escapes, and everyday pleasures. They also include alternative understandings of exclusivity, and of common goods that have become scarce over time. Together, the articles in the special issue combine to present a broader understanding both of what luxury can be and of what luxury might do for consumers. While previous conventional luxury understanding focus on exclusive status consumption, the different articles in this special issue instead introduce consumer perceptions of luxury for which conventional luxury attributes look markedly or even entirely different.
Belk, R., Humayun, M. and Gopaldis, A. (2020), "Artificial Life", Journal of Macromarketing, 40(2), 221-236.Keywords
In this article, we explore how the history and myths about Artificial Life (AL) inform the pursuit and reception of contemporary AL technologies. First, we show that long before the contemporary fields of robotics and genomics, ancient civilizations attempted to create AL in the magical and religious pursuits of automata and alchemy. Next, we explore four persistent cultural myths surrounding AL—namely, those of Pygmalion, Golem, Frankenstein, and Metropolis. These myths offer several insights into why humanity is both fascinated with and fearful of AL. Thereafter, we distinguish contemporary approaches to AL, including biochemical or “wet” approaches (e.g., artificial organs), electromechanical or “hard” approaches (e.g., robot companions), and software-based or “soft” approaches (e.g., digital voice assistants). We also outline an emerging approach to AL that combines all three of the preceding approaches in pursuit of “transhumanism.” We then map out how the four historical myths surrounding AL shape modern society’s reception of the four contemporary AL pursuits. Doing so reveals the enduring human fears that must be addressed through careful development of ethical guidelines for public policy that ensure human safety, dignity, and morality. We end with two sets of questions for future research: one supportive of AL and one more skeptical and cautious.
Belk, R. and Sobh, R. (2019), "No Assemblage Required – On Pursuing Original Consumer Culture Theory", Marketing Theory, 19(4), 489-507.Keywords
Our title plays with the promise on certain consumer goods packages of “no assembly required,” but in fact we call upon the reader to assemble new theories rather than rely on existing ones like assemblage theory. We argue that consumer culture theory (CCT), also known as interpretive consumer research, has thus far not fulfilled its potential as a theory-generating discipline. Our reluctance to attempt creative theorizing is institutionalized by calls for theory-enabled research rather than truly emergent theory. This retreat has recently been strengthened by the rise of Big Data and correlational approaches that eschew theory altogether. In order to change this situation, we recommend a three-stage approach: (1) original phenomena-driven inquiry, (2) combining grounded theory and abductive reasoning, and (3) generating and comparatively analyzing alternative theoretical explanations. We briefly conceptualize the first two stages and illustrate the third using an example of consumer brand masking and bluffing in Africa. We demonstrate the use of two criteria for comparative theoretical analysis: (a) fit with the data and (b) potential usefulness in other contexts. We also argue that sometimes multiple theories are needed. CCT researchers are uniquely positioned to pursue original theory, and in this article, we offer some ideas as to how this can be done.
Belk, R. (2019), "The Future of Globalization: A Comment", International Marketing Review, 36 (4), 545-547.
The purpose of this paper is to present an afterword to Steenkamp’s reflections on the future of globalization published in this issue of International Marketing Review.
Belk, R. and Roux, D. (2019), "The Body as (Another) Place: Producing Embodied Heterotopias through Tattooing", Journal of Consumer Research, 46(3), 483-507.
While previous research has mobilized sociological and psychological readings of the body, this study considers it ontologically as the ultimate place we must live in, with no escape possible. A phenomenological framework and a four-year, multimethod, qualitative study of tattoo recipients and tattooists substantiates the conceptualization of the body as a threefold articulation: an inescapable place (topia), the source of utopias arising from fleeting trajectories between here and elsewhere, and the “embodied heterotopia” that it becomes when people rework their bodies as a better place to inhabit. We show how tattooed bodies are spatially conceived as a topia through their topographies, territories, landscapes, and limits. We then highlight how this creates a dynamic interplay between past, present, and future, resulting in utopian dreams of beautification, escape, conjuration, and immutability. Finally, we show how tattooees produce embodied heterotopias, namely other places that both mirror and compensate for their ontological entrapment. In considering the body as a place, our framework enriches phenomenological and existential approaches to self-transformation in contemporary consumption.
Belk, R., Jordan, W., Ortner, M. and Schweitzer, F. (2019), "Servant, Friend, or Master? The Relationships Users Build with Voice Controlled Smart Devices", Journal of Marketing Management, 35 (7/8), 693-715.Keywords
This paper investigates the different relationships consumers build with anthropomorphised devices and how these relationships affect actual and intended future usage. An exploratory, three-week empirical study of 39 informants using voice controls on their smartphone uncovered a diversity of relationships that the informants built with such devices. We complement anthropomorphism theory by drawing on extended-self theorising to identify three primary roles that emerge from consumers’ interactions with these devices. Our findings theorise the distinct ways in which consumers perceive the object agency of anthropomorphised smart devices and how these perceptions impact the consumers’ engagement and future use intentions.
Belk, R., MacInnis, D. and Yadav, M. (2019), "Personal Accounts and an Anatomy of Conceptual Contributions in the Special Issue", Journal of Marketing Management, 35:1-2, 12-Jan.
Belk, R. (2019), "On Standing Out and Fitting in", Journal of Global Fashion Marketing, 10(3), 203- 227.
Two basic sociological processes with particular relevance to global fashion marketing and consumption are attempting to stand out or to fit in. These processes operate not only among face-to-face peers but online as well. And in some cases, users of social media, as well as marketers, are able to take advantage of the dynamics between those attempting to stand out and those attempting to fit in. In this note, I analyze various ways in which these dynamics operate as well as some of the cultural differences in the tendency toward each trait. I conclude that across cultures the interplay of standing out and fitting in is a basic engine of the fashion process.
Belk, R. and Joy, A. (2019), "India’s Kochi Biennale: Sponsorship, Patronage, and Art’s Resistance", Arts and the Market, 9(1), 16-31.Keywords
The purpose of this paper is to examine the meaning, in both local and international context, of the Kochi-Muziris Biennale (KMB), the first international exhibit of contemporary art in India. Kochi Biennale Foundation (KBF), which administers the KMB, identifies art as a means for transforming society, with a mission to bring global contemporary art to India and to present India’s modern art to the world. The authors further investigate the role of government sponsorship and corporate patronage in funding the KMB, and investigate how resistance through art is key to the KMB’s identity.
Belk, R., Harwood, T. and Gary, T. (2019), "Design Fiction Diegetic Prototyping: A Research Framework for Visualizing Service Innovations", Journal of Services Marketing, 349(1), 59-73.Keywords
The purpose of this paper is to present a design fiction diegetic prototyping methodology and research framework for investigating service innovations that reflect future uses of new and emerging technologies.
Belk, R., Harwood, T. and Garry, T. (2019), "Convergence Markets: Virtual [Corpo]reality", Markets, Globalization & Development Review, 3(3), 1-27.
This paper reflects on the growing trend in the computer games sector towards multi-user social gaming that transcends media platforms. Technological advancements enable embodiment of game-based assets by players who use their ludic affordances to extend experiences into other virtual spaces. In effect, this constitutes a convergence of markets derived from different forms of media content. We comment on the game-to-virtual corporeal transcendence, discussing the cultural context of the game and its impacts on players (consumers) who interact in virtual communities using the device of an avatar.
Belk, R. and Bhattacharyya, A. (2019), "Consumer Resilience and Subservience in Technology Consumption by the Poor", Consumption, Markets and Culture, 42 (5/6), 489-507.
Consumer technology theorists have explored technology consumption primarily through a de-linked, individualistic lens. We augment existing theories on technology consumption by widening the scope of the theorizing lens to include the role of class-based societal domination on consumption by the oppressed. We show that the poor respond to oppression by practices that go beyond non-compliance and subterfuge. We highlight the overlooked phenomenon of Consumer Resilience, and unveil the practices of Subservience in technology consumption by the poor in India. These are consumption practices that help the dominated classes appease those dominating them, at the expense of their own dignity and well-being.
Belk, R., Eagar, T., Mitchell, N., Thomas, K. and Wijland, R. (2018), "Thin-Slicing Tremé as a Subjective Sashay: Heretical Pilgrimages to St. Augustine Catholic Church", Consumption, Markets and Culture, 21(3), 215-238.
Five heretical field researchers celebrate human subjectivity in a fractured journey toward St. Augustine Catholic Church in the heart of Tremé in September 2015. They populate their diverse pentagonal thoughts with Mary Douglas’ negotiated concepts of purity and pollution, rituals and symbols as a counterweight in their backpacks. Some are inspired by the theatrical mythologies of the guides who take them there, others are stopped in their track by the residual devastation of Hurricane Katrina. Some stop to wonder at Nicolas Cage’s future resting place, others line up at food-trucks to add smells and taste to Tremé’s mediated precreation. Some frame it as a battle ground of past and present injustice, others acknowledge the strife inside the dirty tourist. The thin-sliced meanings acquired on the boulevards to St. Augustine Catholic Church provide a touch of truthfulness, in the idiosyncratic segments, and the spirited spaces in between.
Belk, R. and Ruvio, A. (2018), "Strategies of the Extended Self: The Role of Possessions in Transpeople’s Conflicted Selves", Journal of Business Research, 88, 102-110.
Identity conflicts are an integral part of our lives, yet little is known about the implications of such conflicts for people’s strategic presentation of their extended selves to others. To explore this topic and the role of possessions within it, we considered an extreme example that puts the issue into sharp relief. Using data from personal interviews with transpeople and information gleaned from their online forums, we identified four self-extending strategies that participants use to cope with and attempt to resolve their identity conflicts: backward self-extension, parallel self-extension, forward self-extension and metamorphosis of the core self. These strategies are ascribed to the evolution of their extended self and the processes of undoing undesired identities while owning up to desired identities. We draw conclusions about expanding the theories of the extended self and performativity in order to better account for self-conflicts and the role of possessions in dealing with these conflicts.
Belk, R. and Kniazeva, M. (2018), "The Morphing Anthropomorphism: An Update", Journal of Global Scholars of Marketing Science, 28(3), 239-247.Keywords
This is an update of a 2010 paper we published on anthropomorphic consumer perception of brands and marketer attempts to humanize brands through packaging. Since that time a great deal of academic and business attention to the topic of anthropomorphism has resulted in the related work on brand mascots, brand personality, marketplace mythologies, and anthropomorphism in product design and advertising. In addition, new arenas of anthropomorphism have emerged with developments in projective research methods, digital avatars, robot design, digital self-presentation, and conversational digital assistants like Amazon’s Alexa and Apple’s Siri. Such novel directions have prompted new research questions and further studies. This paper offers a brief update of the evolving issues in the co-creation of anthropomorphic objects and brand interpretations by consumers, designers, roboticists, engineers, and marketers.
Belk, R. and Mardon, R. (2018), "Materializing Digital Collecting: An Extended View of Digital Materiality", Marketing Theory, 18(4), 543-570.
If digital objects are abundant and ubiquitous, why should consumers pay for, much less collect them? The qualities of digital code present numerous challenges for collecting, yet digital collecting can and does occur. We explore the role of companies in constructing digital consumption objects that encourage and support collecting behaviours, identifying material configuration techniques that materialize these objects as elusive and authentic. Such techniques, we argue, may facilitate those pleasures of collecting otherwise absent in the digital realm. We extend theories of collecting by highlighting the role of objects and the companies that construct them in materializing digital collecting. More broadly, we extend theories of digital materiality by highlighting processes of digital material configuration that occur in the pre-objectification phase of materialization, acknowledging the role of marketing and design in shaping the qualities exhibited by digital consumption objects and, consequently, related consumption behaviours and experiences.
Belk, R. and Minowa, Y. (2018), "Gifts and Nationalism in Wartime Japan", Journal of Macromarketing, 38(3), 298-314.
This study investigates the shifting discourse and visual rhetoric of consumer rituals in the cultural media during wartime. Specifically, we examine Japanese newspaper advertisements for seasonal gifts and sympathy gifts in urban cities published between 1937 and 1940. This research addresses two questions: (1) how were advertising arguments constructed justifying spending for gifts while instructing readers on being thrifty during the wartime material shortages, and (2) how was the consumer ritual practice of gift giving used to propagate nationalism? The results of our iconographic-semiotic analysis show four advertising themes: compatibility with national policy, timeliness under the wartime circumstances, empathy with families whose members were serving at the front, and sympathy with those serving at the front. The advertisements enhanced nationalism in two ways: (1) through the promotion of nationalistic gift giving, and (2) by appealing to patriotism, which involves emotionally laden nationalistic sentiments.
Belk, R., Caldwell, M., Devinney, T., Eckhardt, G., Henry, P. and Plakoyiannaki, E. (2018), "Envisioning Consumers: How Videography can Contribute to Marketing Knowledge", Journal of Marketing Management, 34(5-6), 432-458.
Based on a review of the past 30 years of videographic research and outputs in the field of marketing, we highlight the key contributions that videography has made to the marketing literature and identify the key issues facing videographic research today. We develop a typology that identifies four ways that videography can contribute to theory development and verification, presenting new criteria for assessing academic videographies. We note that making theoretical contributions is one of the most difficult issues facing videographic researchers and that this is an area in need of significant developments to help the field progress. Finally, we envision what the future of videography might look like and consider the implications of new forms of videographies.
Belk, R., Pino, G. and Rizzo, C. (2018), "Consumer Behaviour and the Toilet: Research on Expulsive and Retentive Personalities", Journal of Consumer Behaviour, 17(3), 280-289.
Belk, R., Brito, E. and Quintão, R. (2017), "The Taste Transformation Ritual in the Specialty Coffee Market", Revista de Administração de Empreses, 57(5), 483-494.
Although the consumer culture field has addressed the role of ritual processes in consumption, no research has yet identified how connoisseur consumers, through ritual practices, establish and manipulate their distinction from other consumers. Drawing on key concepts from ritual theory, this research addresses the role played by ritual in connoisseurship consumption and consumers’ taste. In conducting an ethnographic study on connoisseurship consumption, the first author immersed himself in the North American specialty coffee context-Toronto, Montreal, Seattle, and New York-from August 2013 to July 2014. He used long interviews and participant observation to collect data, which was then interpreted using a hermeneutic approach. We introduce the taste transformation ritual, theorizing the process that converts regular consumers into connoisseur consumers by establishing and reinforcing differences between mass and connoisseurship consumption. We develop a broader theoretical account that builds on consumption ritual and taste formation.
Belk, R. and Ghoshal, T. (2017), "The Kafka Quagmire for the Poor in India", Journal of Marketing Management, 33(17-18), 1559-1569.
Khare and Varman present a compellingly pessimistic analysis of the plight of the poor in India. The dilemmas of the poor are often exacerbated by large corporations seeking to find ways to market products to impoverished emerging market consumers. In India, consumers are frequently hurt by these initiatives, small retailers may suffer, while corruption and trickery by petty bureaucrats and ruthless landlords help the rich get richer at the expense of the poor. The article by Khare and Varman is a scathing indictment based on detailed ethnographic evidence but it reveals only a fraction of the disadvantages and traps of disempowerment facing those Indians living lives of great precarity. In this comment, we seek to build upon Khare and Varman’s insightful analysis both in order to reinforce their conclusions about the Kafkaesque existence of India’s poor and to introduce some further considerations and complications that make the quagmire even more entrapping. We focus on four sources of these problems: patriarchy, bureaucracy and corruption, class and caste power and hierarchies, and uneven and inadequate infrastructure. We also highlight some largely individual and non-government initiatives that may offer hope of escaping this quagmire for the poor.
Belk, R. (2017), "Sharing Without Caring", Cambridge Journal of Regions, Economy, and Society, 10(2), 249-261.
I examine sharing in the context of gated communities. Sharing among family, friends and neighbours is the oldest form of mutual distribution and involves inclusionary “sharing in”, which tends to build caring interpersonal ties and a sense of community. Public goods sharing involves more exclusionary “sharing out”, and creates only weak ties and a limited sense of community or caring. The same is true of the so-called “sharing economy”. Gated communities lie between these extremes—not fully private nor public. Paradoxically, since they are founded to share amenities with neighbours, such communities are actually exclusionary and uncaring.
Belk, R. (2017), "Russ Belk, Autobiographical Reflections", Journal of Historical Research in Marketing, 9(2), 191-202.
By tracing something of my history in becoming a marketing professor and conducting research, I hope to demonstrate that if I can flourish without compromising my ideals or losing my enthusiasm for research, so can anyone.
Belk, R. (2017), "Qualitative Research in Advertising", Journal of Advertising, 46(1), 36-47.
In spite of the rise of big data and the ease with which online experiments and surveys may be conducted, there is more need than ever for qualitative advertising research. This review considers both the methods and findings of such research. It focuses on the role of qualitative analyses in revealing how ads are “read” by consumers. Methodological approaches considered include observation, depth interviews, projective methods, focus groups, netnography, and videography. Theoretical approaches reviewed include semiotics, reader response, and co-optation theory. Because cultural analyses are a strength of qualitative research, global and cross-cultural advertising research is also examined. The article concludes with an evaluation of the ways in which qualitative advertising research can be combined with data analytics to produce richer and more complete understandings of consumer behavior in response to advertising.
Belk, R. and Suarez, M. (2017), "Cultural Resonance of Global Brands in Brazilian Social Movements", International Marketing Review, 34(4), 480-497.
The research analyzes the presence of two global brands – Fiat and International Federation of Association Football – in Brazilian demonstrations in conjunction with the 2014 World Cup. The purpose of this paper is to extend the brand cultural resonance construct and highlights its boundary-straddling nature. The analysis reveals the dynamics of brand meanings established including why some brands have their meanings enriched through collective appropriation, while others become vessels of negative content and targets of anti-consumption movements.
Belk, R. Brito, E. and Quintão, R. (2017), "Connoisseurship Consumption Community and its Dynamics", Revista Brasileira de Gestão de Negócios (Journal of Business Management), 19(63), 48-64.
What is the dynamics of the connoisseurship consumption community? What are the forces that drive this serious leisure consumption community?
Belk, R. (2017), "Collective Narcissism, Anti-Globalism, Brexit, Trump, and the Chinese Juggernaut", Markets, Globalization & Development Review, 2(3), 1-8.
Brexit and the election of Trump both relied on a particular type of nationalistic appeal to collective narcissism — an exaggerated emotional belief that the nation’s greatness is being undermined by other nations and other people. This tendency is catered to by appeals to make the nation great again by shutting borders and embracing isolationism while scapegoating refugees and immigrants. The rise of jingoistic leaders like Trump, Putin, and Erdogan can be explained by such appeals. But China, which has long suffered feelings of national humiliation is reacting in quite different ways that embrace globalism, even while rejecting multiculturalism. This paper seeks to tie these developments together as well as show how collective narcissism and a particular strain of individual narcissism among leaders can feed into one another as well as fuel leaders’ heightened feelings of privilege and entitlement leading to conspicuous consumption and bullying.
Belk, R. and Minowa, Y. (2017), "Ad Hoc Japonisme: How National Identity Rhetorics work in Japanese Advertising", Consumption, Markets and Culture, 20(4), 329-349.
This study examines how a variety of national identity rhetorics are formed with the nuanced aestheticization. We focus on visual rhetorics. We use advertisements for traditional, seasonal gifts in post-postwar Japan as the context of inquiry. Two research questions addressed are: (1) how different rhetorics of national identity are formed between the gifts advertised and the audience, focusing more on visual than merely verbal elements, and (2) how visual genealogy – specific cultural and historical references in contemporary images – is used in rhetorical figures. Underpinned by a critical visual analysis, we apply Western and Japanese art canons to a visual social semiotic approach in order to interpret variations in the semantics of national identity. We discuss three types of rhetorics of national identity: rhe-transfiguration, rhe-truculence, and rhe-trepidation. The study suggests that national identity rhetorics activate a “deep subjectivity” resulting from the aestheticized experience reinforced by the nation’s consumption ritual.
Belk, R., Decrop, A. and Petr, C. (2016), "Videography in Marketing Research: Mixing Art and Science", Journal of Arts Marketing, 5(1), 73-102.
The purpose of this paper is to present videography as a rising method available for academics. Visuals are increasingly omnipresent in the modern society. As they become easy to create and use, videos are no longer only for ethnographers and specialist researchers.
Belk, R., Ko, E. and Megehee, C. (2016), "Leaving Pleasantville: Macro/Micro, Public/Private, Conscious/Non-conscious, Volitional/Imposed, and Permanent/Ephemeral Transformations Beyond Everyday Life", Journal of Business Research, 69(1), 1-5.Keywords
Your first family pet! Your first kiss! Your first real job! Your first day of college! Your induction into whatever! Your first sale of a big idea! Certain transformations are with us forevermore while others are rather micro happenings that we soon are unable to recall. This special issue includes research into 32 different categories of transformations. The articles here are valuable for marketers and consumers. Understanding transformation processes contributes to marketers’ ability to design and deliver offerings that are beneficial to customers and that consumers seek to experience. The introductory essay in the special issue proposes a five-dimensional framework for classifying transformation research, places each article in the special issue within the framework, and briefly introduces something unique and interesting about each article. Authors and reviewers participating in this special issue represent a diverse international group of scholars. Get ready! Reading this issue is going to transform you.
Belk, R., Braun, J. and Zolfagharian, M. (2016), "How Does a Product Gain the Status of a Necessity? An Analysis of Necessitation Narratives", Psychology and Marketing, 33(3), 209-222.
The consumer perception of how products gain the status of necessities is characterized by complexity, laden with idiosyncratic consumer experiences, and driven by personally relevant historical developments. This study pushes the theoretical boundaries of understanding consumer necessities by reaching beyond the classification of products into traditional dichotomies such as necessity–luxury and need–want. It focuses on how consumers experience and recount emotion‐laden events in their lives whereby certain products move to being perceived as necessities over time. An analysis of narratives reveals that product necessitation encompasses five stages: familiarization, transformation in the form of redemption or contamination, memorialization, (re)integration and reconstruction, and solidification. Comprehending necessitation experiences is of great interest to marketers in creating effective marketing strategies as well as to public policymakers in ensuring that their citizens have access to life necessities.
Belk, R. (2016), "Extended Self and the Digital World", Current Opinion in Psychology, 10, 50-54.
As originally conceived, the extended self is composed of a person’s mind, body, physical possessions, family, friends, and affiliation groups. With the advent of the Internet (especially ‘Web 2.0’), social media, online games, virtual worlds, and other digital activities, together with the devices through which participation in such activities takes place, there is a greatly expanded set of ways in which we may represent ourselves to others. Research and theory on the extended self must now consider features such as dematerialization, re-embodiment, and co-construction of self. This review outlines research in these areas and emerging challenges. A summary table outlines the changes to the extended self concept and the nature of possessions resulting from these features. The paper concludes with recommendations for future research.
Belk, R. and Price, L. (2016), "Consumer Ownership and Sharing: Introduction to the Issue", Journal of the Association for Consumer Research, 1(2), 193-197.
Belk, R. (2016), "Comprendre le Robot: Commentaires sur Goudey et Bonnin (“Understanding the Robot: Comments on Goudey and Bonnin”)", Recherche et Applications en Marketing, 31(4), 89-97.
Goudey and Bonnin provide an important demonstration of our willingness to accept robots regardless of the degree to which they look like us. This comment seeks to expand their insights in two ways. First, by broadening our conception of what constitutes a robot, I argue that we have already accepted many non-humanoid robots, and that even robotic entities without a visual presence can be compelling and engaging. Second, I suggest expanding the original paper’s psychological treatment of category ambiguity through the anthropological treatment of Mary Douglas. Douglas suggests that category ambiguity is abhorrent because things perceived to transgress categorical boundaries challenge our cultural beliefs and social order. In the case of robots, the beliefs that are challenged are our basic understandings of what makes humans unique and privileged in the world. As machines grow more and more capable, by some accounts they threaten to eclipse and even supplant the human race. I identify several behavioral and ethical research issues that are imperative if we are to deal with and prepare for such possibilities.
Belk, R. (2016), "China’s Global Trade History: A Western Perspective", Journal of China Marketing and Logistics, 6(1), 1-22.
Belk, R. (2016), "Accept No Substitutes: A Reply to Arnould and Rose", Marketing Theory, 16(1), 143-149.
Arnould and Rose raise some interesting issues regarding my sharing paper (Belk 2010). We agree on some points, but I find that most of their contentions are misguided and are based on misunderstandings of the original paper, social science, the extended self, and the theory of the gift. Their alternative offering of mutuality is also perplexingly self-contradictory, romanticized, and illogical. In this reply I point out issues on which we agree as well as reasons for disagreement.
Belk, R. (2016), "A History of Global Consumption, 1500-1800 (Book Review)", Consumption, Markets and Culture, 19(2), 244-257.
Belk, R., Eckhardt, G. and Wilson, J. (2015), "Marketing Luxury Branding Below the Radar", Harvard Business Review, September, 2015, 26-27.
Belk, R. (2015), "YouTube on the Couch: Psychoanalytic Challenges in a Digital Age", Marketing Theory, 15(1), 21-24.
I believe that there is a new opportunity and chalenge for psychoanalytic theorizing and consumer research applications. It arises from the digital age in which we are living. I will single out three aspects by way of illustration, namely, representations of self, confessional modes, and addictive behaviors. While none of these are entirely new to the digital age, they each take on a different character and pose new problems within the frame of contemporary and emerging technologies. The theories of Freud, Lacan, Foucault, Klein, Jung, Mulvey, and others offer some partial insights, but at the very least, some reworking of their ideas is needed. It might be objected that the Internet and our digital devices merely offer new media for old practices. However, these new media precipitate new practices like having virtual sex, occupying our avatars, publicizing ourselves to the world, and spending long hours in fantasy play, each of which offers something quite new. Furthermore, unlike film, television, and novels, our accounts of such behavior are in the first person and help construct alternative autobiographies. In what follows, I outline some of the questions these new practices raise.
Belk, R., Eckhardt, G. and Wilson, J. (2015), "The Rise of Inconspicuous Consumption", Journal of Marketing Management, 31(7-8), 807-826.
Ever since Veblen and Simmel, luxury has been synonymous with conspicuous consumption. In this conceptual paper we demonstrate the rise of inconspicuous consumption via a wide-ranging synthesis of the literature. We attribute this rise to the signalling ability of traditional luxury goods being diluted, a preference for not standing out as ostentatious during times of economic hardship, and an increased desire for sophistication and subtlety in design in order to further distinguish oneself for a narrow group of peers. We decouple the constructs of luxury and conspicuousness, which allows us to reconceptualise the signalling quality of brands and the construct of luxury. This also has implications for understanding consumer behaviour practices such as counterfeiting and suggests that consumption trends in emerging markets may take a different path from the past.
Belk, R., Varman, R. and Vikas, R. (2015), "Status, Caste, and Markets in a Changing Indian Village", Journal of Consumer Research, 46(3), 472-498.
When social and economic conditions change dramatically, status hierarchies in place for hundreds of years can crumble as marketization destabilizes once rigid boundaries. This study examines such changes in symbolic power through an ethnographic study of a village in North India. Marketization and accompanying privatization do not create an independent sphere where only money matters, but due to a mix of new socioeconomic motives, they produce new social obligations, contests, and solidarities. These findings call into question the emphasis in consumer research on top-down class emulation as an essential characteristic of status hierarchies. This study offers insights into sharing as a means of enacting and reshaping symbolic power within a status hierarchy. A new order based on markets and consumption is disrupting the old order based on caste. As the old moral order dissolves, so do the old status hierarchies, obligations, dispositions, and norms of sharing that held the village together for centuries. In the microcosm of these gains and losses, we may see something of the broader social and economic changes taking place throughout India and other industrializing countries.
Belk, R. and Cherrier, H. (2015), "Setting the Conditions for Going Global: Dubai’s Transformation and the Emirati Women", Journal of Marketing Management, 31(3-4), 317-335.
This study investigated how the rapid transformation of Dubai has affected the forms and shape of Emiratis’ consumption. Analysis of participant observations, projective techniques and existential phenomenological interviews with Emirati women living in Dubai uncovered ambivalence about economic power and loss of traditions and strategies for going global including embracing local capital, brand selection and spatiotemporal restrictions. The discussion notes that the global is something that is locally constructed whereby the locals play a key role in developing global structures of common difference.
Belk, R. and Kahn, J. (2015), "Measuring Consumer Perceptions of Payment Mode: Scale Development and Validation", Journal of Economic Psychology, 47, 34-49.
Although existing scales assess perceptions of money per se, none capture the mental and emotional experiences that the corporal quality of the payment mode generates. Historical and sensory associations with payment modes generate differential cognitive and emotional sensitivity in mental accounts, and influence the type, value and amount of products purchased. Although an increasing amount of attention has been devoted to the influence of payment mode on spending behavior, and little effort has been devoted to developing an appropriate measurement scale to capture consumers’ cognitive and emotional associations with payment modes. To address this gap in the literature, this study developed a conceptual and empirical framework with a sample of approximately 800 participants, and shows how the constructs and the scales capture perceptions of payment modes. The 19-item PPM scale represents four dimensions: emotions relating to cash and card based payment modes, social and personal gratification and money management. The PPM measurement scale demonstrates acceptable reliability and shows that consumer perceptions of payment modes influence spending behavior and predict ownership of financial cards in possession. The scale is useful in understanding consumer cognitive and emotional associations with payment modes, particularly the use of “owned money” and how these associations impact on payment mode choice.
Belk, R. Eckhardt, G. and Wilson, J. (2015), "Luxury Branding Below the Radar", Harvard Business Review, September, 26-27.
Belk, R., Bhardwaj, R. and Joy, A. (2015), "Judith Butler on Performativity and Precarity: Exploratory Thoughts on Gender and Violence in India", Journal of Marketing Management, 31(5-6), 1739-1745.
We turn to the philosopher and gender theorist Judith Butler for insight into how gender performativity (acting and actions restricted by gender norms) affects identity and thus individual agency. Gender performativity underlies the prevailing conceptualisation of women in India as being lesser. We anticipated that the extreme divide between wealth and poverty and higher and lower castes would affect women’s vulnerability. Yet, while lower class/caste women are undeniably at greater risk of sexual assault, even women of higher social status similarly embody ‘precarity’: a life lived without predictability, and thus without security. While structural changes have encouraged increased agentic performativity among women in India, a culture of condoned sexual violence is nonetheless an ongoing and horrifying reality.
Belk, R. (2014), "You Are What You Can Access: Sharing and Collaborative Consumption Online", Journal of Business Research, 67(8), 1595-1600.
Sharing is a phenomenon as old as humankind, while collaborative consumption and the “sharing economy” are phenomena born of the Internet age. This paper compares sharing and collaborative consumption and finds that both are growing in popularity today. Examples are given and an assessment is made of the reasons for the current growth in these practices and their implications for businesses still using traditional models of sales and ownership. The old wisdom that we are what we own, may need modifying to consider forms of possession and uses that do not involve ownership.
Belk, R. (2014), "The Labors of the Odysseans and the Legacy of the Odyssey", Journal of Historical Research in Marketing, 6(3), 379-404.
The purpose of this paper is to review the 1985-1991 project called “The Consumer Behavior Odyssey”, including a retrospective assessment of its context and role in influencing consumer research paradigms.
Belk, R. (2014), "The Extended Self Unbound", Journal of Marketing Theory and Practice, 22(2), 133-134.
Belk, R. (2014), "The Art of Using Ethnography", International Journal of Market Research, 56(4), 7-23.
Belk, R. (2014), "Sharing Versus Pseudo-Sharing in Web 2.0", The Anthropologist, 18(1), 50.Keywords
The Internet has opened up a new era in sharing. There has also been an explosion of studies and writings about sharing via the Internet. This includes a series of books, articles, and web discussions on the topic. However, many of these apparent cases of sharing are better characterized as pseudo-sharing — commodity exchanges wrapped in a vocabulary of sharing. The present paper reviews subsequent research and theorizing as well as controversies that have emerged surrounding sharing and what is best regarded as pseudo-sharing — a wolf-insheep’s-clothing phenomenon whereby commodity exchange and potential exploitation of consumer co-creators present themselves in the guise of sharing. The paper begins with a pair of vignettes that highlight some of the contested meanings of sharing. By detailing four types of pseudo-sharing and four types of sharing that are specifically enabled or enhanced by Internet technologies, the paper argues that pseudo-sharing is distinguished by the presence of profit motives, the absence of feelings of community, and expectations of reciprocity. It concludes with a discussion of theoretical, practical, and ethical implications of pseudo-sharing and offer suggestions for future research.
Belk, R., Gressel, J. and Sobh, R. (2014), "Nicht Mehr Zum Anfassen: Welch Auswirkungen Virtuelle Produkte in Unterschiedlichen Kulturen Haben", Kulturaustausch, 4(14), 392-412.
Belk, R., Cluley, R. and Tadajewski, M. (2014), "Mimicry and Modernity in the Middle East: Fashion Invisibility and Young Women of the Arab Gulf", Consumption, Markets and Culture, 17(4), 477-500.Keywords
Prior consumer research has addressed the encounter between global brands and styles versus local cultures through the concepts of glocal hybridity, post-assimilationist resistance, and the de-stigmatization of local practices in the face of competition from global consumer culture. Based on fieldwork with college women in the Arab Gulf states we detect two other practices involving highly conspicuous consumption that act to create a space for identity that lies between Western modernity and Islamic conservatism. The first is layering in which outer garments act as a “cloak of invisibility” for luxurious Western wear beneath. The second is “mimetic excess” that responds to envy of Western consumption, provokes local envy, and participates in “modern” consumption at the same time that it encompasses these practices within a covering of religious and national virtue. The key contribution of this study consists of identifying these new strategies of reconciling two opposing hegemonic fashion discourses to which privileged Muslim minorities in their own wealthy countries are subjected.
Belk, R. and Moreira, L. (2014), "Extended Self in a Digital World", Journal of Consumer Research, 40(3), 1-17.
The extended self was proposed in 1988. Since it was formulated, many technological changes have dramatically affected the way we consume, present ourselves, and communicate. This conceptual update seeks to revitalize the concept, incorporate the impacts of digitization, and provide an understanding of consumer sense of self in today’s technological environment. It is necessarily a work in progress, for the digital environment and our behavior within it continue to evolve. But some important changes are already clear. Five changes with digital consumption are considered that impact the nature of self and the nature of possessions. Needed modifications and additions to the extended self are outlined, and directions for future research are suggested. The digital world opens a host of new means for self-extension, using many new consumption objects to reach a vastly broader audience. Even though this calls for certain reformulations, the basic concept of the extended self remains vital.
Belk, R. (2014), "Ethnographic Research in Marketing: Past, Present, and Possible Trends for the Future", Brazilian Journal of Marketing, 13(6), 1101-1118.
The article covers periods, events, contexts, research and projects in the Consumer Culture sphere within and outside Brazil. Our account is guided by the contributions of qualitative research and especially ethnography, and reveals the very different pathways followed by Consumer Culture. In contrast, our attempt to guess possible futures in this area involve the analysis of similarities between local, national and international practices, in the search for new methodological and theoretical constructs in Consumer Culture and Marketing.
Belk, R. (2014), "Digital Consumption and the Extended Self", Journal of Marketing Management, 30, 79-92.Keywords
There are numerous and substantial effects of the use of digital technologies on consumers. I focus here on the ways in which these technologies have brought changes to the extended self. This review builds on earlier work considering digital subjectivities. I find that the human–machine digital interface results in a series of challenging theoretical issues. In considering these issues at the broadest level I also address how the affordances of digital technologies may cause us to rethink the notion of extended self, the body and the relationship between objects and consumers in digital environments.
Belk, R. (2014), "Collaborating in Visual Consumer Research", International Journal of Business Anthropology, 5(1), 79-92.
Collaborative research is both a pragmatic and a moral choice for the ethnographic consumer researcher. It often produces better insights as well as strives to overcome issues of representation in anthropology. This review looks at both traditional collaborations and collaborations enabled by digital technologies, with a focus on visual collaborative methods, benefits, and difficulties. I review a variety of such consumer research methods and contexts involving the co-production of meaning with research participants. And I consider the issues facing ethnographers in attempting to engage their audiences in a visually compelling manner with the spirit of openness and transparency that is inherent in such research.
Belk, R. (2013), "Visual and Projective Research Methods in Asia", Qualitative Market Research, 16(1), 94-107.Keywords
The purpose of this review is to offer a summary of visual and projective research methods that have been applied or may be applied fruitfully in an Asian context. Examples are provided and a delineation of the strengths and weaknesses of the methods is made. Design/methodology/approach: This is a review article covering a number of different relevant methods and briefly reviewing studies that have been conducted in Asia using these methods. Findings: The paper reviews five different uses of qualitative visual and projective methods in Asian consumer and market research: as archival data for analysis; as direct stimuli for data collection; as projective stimuli for data collection; as a means for recording qualitative data; and as a means for presenting qualitative findings. Research limitations/implications: It is suggested that Asia contains a rich visual culture and that the research techniques reviewed offer compelling means for enhancing data collection, data analysis, and findings presentations from qualitative market and consumer research in Asia. Originality/value: The paper brings together a diverse array of prior research illustrating the potential of the methods reviewed. In addition to discussing this research a number of references are provided for those wishing to examine these methods in greater detail and apply them to their own research.
Belk, R. and Tumbat, G. (2013), "Co‐Construction and Performancescapes", Journal of Consumer Behaviour, 12, 49-59.
Although prior literature has emphasized marketplace participants’ co‐construction mostly in terms of symbolic, oral, or emotional aspects of a consumption experience, there has not been much attention paid to potential concerns around success, failure, strategies, risk, dependence, and competition involved. This article, by building on the existing body of research, introduces the notion of performancescapes to better understand these issues as they relate to participant performances in the co‐construction of marketplace experiences. Performances have the character of being an accomplishment involving an interactive quality and an element of risk. Accordingly, highlighting competencies and effectiveness rather than just the meaning enables us to concentrate on issues of success, failure, and risk. Furthermore, it is not uncommon to examine the marketer side of marketplace performances, but the customer side is generally neglected or assumed to be more passive. In this paper, we explore some of the ways through which service providers and clients participate in a marketplace stage as a performancescape in order to have a successful co‐constructed performance. We further maintain that the performative competencies of consumers can be as significant as that of marketers or service providers.
Belk, R. and Nguyen, D. (2013), "Harmonization Processes and Relational Meanings in Constructing Asian Weddings", Journal of Consumer Research, 3(1), 518-538.
Using multimethod data on wedding consumption, this research highlights the pursuit of harmonization as a dynamic and never-ending process that can happen within individuals, between human beings, and among different entities in the world. While prior research on harmony has treated the construct as a core value of Chinese culture or a set of abstract principles that guide consumer behavior, the focus here is on how harmonization happens, the conditions under which harmonization is either promoted or defeated, and the benefits resulting from harmonization that keep people involved in the process of creating it. This examination of Vietnamese weddings demystifies the myth that Asian consumers sacrifice individual preferences and bow to collective interests, explains how face influences Asian consumer behavior, and provides an extension of Richins’s categories or levels of consumption meaning.
Bamossy, G., Belk, R., Kartajaya, H., Liu, J., Sandikci, L., Scott, L., Sobh, R. and Wilson, J. (2013), "Crescent Marketing, Muslim Geographies and Brand Islam", Journal of Islamic Marketing, 4(1), 22-50.Keywords
The purpose of this paper is to bring together the thoughts and opinions of key members of the Journal of Islamic Marketing’s (JIMA) Editorial Team, regarding the recently branded phenomenon of Islamic marketing – in the interests of stimulating further erudition.
Belk, R. (2013), "Consumer Insights for Developing Markets", Journal of Indian Business Research, 5(1), 6-9.Keywords
Multinational companies (MNCs) entering developing markets face cultural, language, and other barriers to understanding consumers. Ethnographic consumer insights research offers the best means of understanding needed product innovations and adaptations for these markets. This paper aims to focus on these issues.
Belk, R. (2013), "Qualitative Versus Quantitative Research in Marketing", Revista de Negocios, 18(1), 5-9.
It is ironic that at a time when we have more quantitative data about consumers than ever before – so-called “big data,” scanner data, loyalty program purchase histories, trails of Internet searches and social media activity, and much more – that businesses nevertheless increasingly desire qualitative information. The two sets of methods also differ in their underlying assumptions about the nature of reality, the nature of evidence, causality, and factors that shape behavior. Unfortunately these differences often evoke an “either/or” approach on the part of researchers and audiences for their research. In both academic and applied research it is usually far more beneficial to adopt a “both/and” perspective and to select the best tool for the problem at hand. Otherwise, with a tool kit comprised of only a single tool, the “law of the hammer” tends to apply. If you only have a hammer in your tool kit, everything starts to look like a nail and we keep pounding away, regardless of the nature of the problem at hand.
Belk, R., Sobh, R. and Wilson, J. (2013), "Islamic Arab Hospitality and Multiculturalism", Marketing Theory, 13, 442-463.
This ethnographic study in Qatar and United Arab Emirates addresses a particular Islamic consumptionscape as well as a related commodified practice: that of Arab hospitality. This much vaunted Arab virtue is examined in three contexts: home hospitality, commercial hospitality, and hospitality toward foreign guest workers and visitors. We find that home hospitality is largely extended inward and involves sharing in with close same-sex friends and family in a tournament of status, while hospitality toward foreigners is largely either nonexistent or outsourced to other foreigners. These patterns are explained in terms of hyper-ritualization of that which is most in doubt, namely, multiculturalism and patriarchal authority. We argue that this same pattern of hyper-ritualization may apply in other ritual contexts like American Thanksgiving celebrations.
Belk, R., Cherrier, H. and Lee, M. (2013), "Anti-Consumption and Society", Journal of Macromarketing, 33(3), 187-189.
In this introductory editorial we briefly discuss anti-consumption research and society, the focus of this special issue of the Journal of Macromarketing. We then introduce the four peer reviewed articles and two invited commentaries that comprise the special issue, and conclude with future research opportunities
Belk, R. and Varman, R. (2012), "Consuming Postcolonial Shopping Malls", Journal of Marketing Management, 28, 62-84.
Through a naturalistic inquiry, we interpret shopping malls in India as post-colonial sites in which young consumers deploy the West in an attempt to transform their Third World identities. Shopping malls in former colonies represent a post-colonial hybridity that offers consumers the illusion of being Western, modern, and developed. Moreover, consumption of post-colonial retail arenas is characterised as a masquerade through which young consumers attempt to disguise or temporarily transcend their Third World realities. This interpretation helps us to offer insights into transitioning retail servicescapes of the Third World, which in turn helps to improve extant understanding of consumer identity and global consumer culture.
Belk, R., Skеlйn, P. and Varman, R. (2012), "Conflicts at the Bottom of the Pyramid: Profitability, Poverty Alleviation, and Neoliberal Governmentality", Journal of Public Policy and Marketing, 31(1), 19-35.
This article adopts the concept of neoliberal governmentality to critically analyze public policy failures in a bottom-of-the-pyramid (BOP) marketing initiative. This research shows that e-Choupal, an Indian BOP initiative, is hampered by a divide between poverty alleviation and profit seeking, which is inadequately reconciled by the neoliberal government policies that dominate contemporary India. The initiative sounds good, even noble, but becomes mired in divergent discourses and practices that ultimately fail to help the poor whom it targets. This research helps explicate the problems with BOP policy interventions that encourage profit seeking as a way to alleviate poverty.
Belk, R., Hirschman, E. and Ruvio, A. (2012), "Exploring Space and Place in Marketing Research: Excavating the Garage", Marketing Theory, 12(4), 369–389.
Based on an ethnographic study of American garages, we develop a model of the roles that liminal spaces perform in the management of possessions and their meanings. We find that the garage serves as a transitional space that links the useful and useless, female and male, clean and dirty, sacred and profane, and past, present, and future. We also propose that the garage can be a de facto museum and prosthetic memory device, as well as a link across generations of the family. Based on these findings, we offer a model of liminal household spaces and their dynamic role in making and managing meanings of everyday life.
Belk, R. and Kniazeva, M. (2012), "The Western Yogi: Consuming Eastern Wisdom", International Journal of Consumer Research, 1-27.
Belk, R. and Nguyen, D. (2012), "Vietnamese Weddings: From Marx to Market", Journal of Macromarketing, 32(1), 109-120.
This article examines the historical role of marriage and wedding rituals in Vietnam, and how they have changed during Vietnam’s transition to the market. The authors focus on how changes reflect the society’s increasing dependence on the market, how this dependence impacts consumer well-being, and the resulting implications for public policy. Changes in the meanings, function, and structure of wedding ritual consumption are examined. These changes echo shifts in the national economy, social values, social relations, and gender roles in Vietnamese society during the transition. The major findings show that Vietnamese weddings are reflections of (1) the roles of wedding rituals as both antecedents and outcomes of social changes, (2) the nation’s perception and imagination of its condition relative to “modernity,” and (3) the role of China as a threatening “other” seen as impeding Vietnam’s progress toward “modernization.”
Belk, R., Gressel, J. and Sobh, R. (2012), "Modest Seductiveness: Reconciling Modesty and Vanity by Reverse Assimilation and Double Resistance", Journal of Consumer Behaviour, 11(5), 357-367.
We study conflicting notions of modesty and vanity in the Arab Gulf region by focusing on contemporary female adornment practices and the tensions underlying them. The standard of modest traditional dress that women are expected to adhere to in Gulf countries is intended to conceal their sexuality and promote public virtue. Nevertheless, emerging bodily adornment practices in the region serve the contradictory purposes of emphasizing female sexuality and celebrating fashion. By using insights from observations and depth interviews with young Qatari and Emirati women, we explore the dynamics underlying the conflicting imperatives of modesty and vanity and examine how they reconcile these contradictions in constructing their identities as women, Muslims, Qataris, and Emiratis. We find that the concepts of reverse assimilation and double resistance are most useful in understanding responses to these conflicting imperatives among young Gulf women.
Courses TaughtDate Course No./Title No. of Students
Winter, 2021 Marketing Management 50
April, 2020 Webinar, “Consumption After COVID-19” 450
November, 2020 Webinar, “Understanding the Consumer Behavior 180
Effects of COVID-19”
September, 2020 Webinar, “Consumers, Businesses, the Economy 180
and the Environment after COVID-19”
January, 2020 Qualitative Research Methods, 8th AIM AMA 35
Sheth Foundation Doctoral Consortium and
Conference, Noida, India
Winter, 2020 Consumer Insight 52
Winter, 2020 Consumer Culture Theory 6
June, 2019 Consumer Culture Theory, METU University, 23
Winter 2019 Consumer Insight 52
Project Title Role Award Amount Year Awarded Granting Agency Project TitlePsychological Drivers of the Discrepancy between Traditional and Touchscreen Equipment, with Ying Zhu Role Award Amount$28,466.00 Year Awarded2014-2015 Granting AgencySocial Sciences and Humanities Research Council - Insight Development Grant Project Title RolePrincipal Investigator Award Amount$3,200.00 Year Awarded2014 Granting AgencySchulich School of Business Project TitleLuxury Consumption in India: A Culture in Transition, with Annamma Joy RolePrincipal Investigator Award Amount$195,143.00 Year Awarded2013-2016 Granting AgencySocial Sciences and Humanities Research Council - Insight Grant Project TitleRedemptive Materialism: Re-orienting Religious Experience in Contemporary Consumer Culture, with Sammy Bonsu RoleCo-Investigator Award Amount$85,110.00 Year Awarded2011-2013 Granting AgencySocial Sciences and Humanities Research Council - Standard Research Grant Project TitleHospitality in Qatar, with Rana Sobh RolePrincipal Investigator Award Amount$143,230.00 Year Awarded2010-2013 Granting AgencyQatar Foundation - Qatar National Research Fund Project TitleBaby Boomer Construction Foundation and Reconstruction of Gender barriers: A Macro and Micro Analysis of Symbolic Meaning of Gift-Giving in Japan with Takeshi Matsui and Yuko Minowa RolePrincipal Investigator Award Amount$4,000,000.00 Year Awarded2010-2012 Granting AgencyYoshida Memorial Foundation - Research Grant Project TitleUnderstanding Civil Society Activists, with Timothy Devinney, Joachim Schwalback, Pat Auger, and Ann Gunnthorsdottir RolePrincipal Investigator Award Amount$338,000.00 Year Awarded2009-2012 Granting AgencyAustralia Research Discovery Council (award amount in Australian Dollar) - Discovery Grant Project TitleMen's and Women's Spaces in Qatari Homes, with Rana Sobh RolePrincipal Investigator Award Amount$238,000.00 Year Awarded2007-2010 Granting AgencyQatar Foundation - Qatar National Research Fund Project TitleMaterialistic value and status brand consumption among generation cohorts in China, With David Tse and Kineta Hung RolePrincipal Investigator Award Amount$461,360.00 Year Awarded2005-2009 Granting AgencyHong Kong Social Science Research Council (award amount in Hong Kong Dollar) - Research Grant Project TitleCross-Cultural Differences in Perceptions of Consumption Ethics, with Timothy Devinney and Giana Eckhardt RolePrincipal Investigator Award Amount$112,000.00 Year Awarded2002-2005 Granting AgencyAustralia Research Council (award amount in Australian Dollar) - Discovery Grant Project TitleConsuming Cryptocurrencies: The Consumer Journey RoleCo-Investigator Award Amount$121,368.00 Year Awarded2020-2023 Granting AgencySSHRC Project TitleMoving Away from the Roots RoleCo-Investigator Award Amount$6,000.00 Year Awarded2018-2019 Granting AgencyACR/TCR Project TitleThe Impact of Touchscreen Devices RoleCo-Investigator Award Amount$94,884.00 Year Awarded2018-2021 Granting AgencySSHRC