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Working Consumers: The Next Step in Marketing Theory?

  • Cova, Bernard
  • Dalli, Daniele
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    In marketing and consumer research, consumers have been increasingly theorised as producers. However, these theorisations do not take all facets of consumers’ productive role into account. This paper mobilises both post-Marxist economics and post-Maussian socio-economics to develop the concept of working consumer. This concept depicts consumers who, through their immaterial labour, add cultural and affective value to market offerings. In so doing consumers increase the value of market offerings, although they usually work at the primary level of sociality (interpersonal relationships) and are therefore beyond producers’ control. However, given certain conditions, companies capture such a value when it enters the second level of sociality (the market). The concept of the working consumer summarises and enriches extant approaches to consumer (co)production, while challenging right-minded developments, such as the service-dominant (S-D) logic in marketing, which try to create/construct an ethereal marketscape in which consumers and producers live in harmony.

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    File URL: http://mpra.ub.uni-muenchen.de/36717/1/MPRA_paper_36717.pdf
    File Function: original version
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    Paper provided by University Library of Munich, Germany in its series MPRA Paper with number 36717.

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    Date of creation: 2009
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    Publication status: Published in Marketing Theory 3.9(2009): pp. 315-339
    Handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:36717
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    Web page: http://mpra.ub.uni-muenchen.de

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    1. Fuller, Johann & Jawecki, Gregor & Muhlbacher, Hans, 2007. "Innovation creation by online basketball communities," Journal of Business Research, Elsevier, vol. 60(1), pages 60-71, January.
    2. Charla Mathwick & Caroline Wiertz & Ko de Ruyter, 2008. "Social Capital Production in a Virtual P3 Community," Journal of Consumer Research, University of Chicago Press, vol. 34(6), pages 832-849, November.
    3. Eric von Hippel, 1986. "Lead Users: A Source of Novel Product Concepts," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 32(7), pages 791-805, July.
    4. Holt, Douglas B, 2002. " Why Do Brands Cause Trouble? A Dialectical Theory of Consumer Culture and Branding," Journal of Consumer Research, University of Chicago Press, vol. 29(1), pages 70-90, June.
    5. Firat, A Fuat & Venkatesh, Alladi, 1995. " Liberatory Postmodernism and the Reenchantment of Consumption," Journal of Consumer Research, University of Chicago Press, vol. 22(3), pages 239-67, December.
    6. Franke, Nikolaus & Shah, Sonali, 2003. "How communities support innovative activities: an exploration of assistance and sharing among end-users," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 32(1), pages 157-178, January.
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