CCTC: Presidential Newsletter (December 2017)

December 1, 2017

December 1, 2017

Dear members of CCTC, periodically I will, in my role as Prez of this organization, provide an update on information as well some reflections on issues relevant to our community. In don’t intend on producing these updates on a fixed schedule but will do so whenever there is a body of relevant information and/or I have thoughts I would like to share.

I. CCT Conference 2019

On the informational front, I am very pleased to announce that the 2019 Consumer Culture Theory Conference will be……[drum roll, rising levels of expectation awaiting a cathartic release and experiences of joy and elation…..] hosted by Concordia University, Montreal, Canada, and co-chaired by Zeynep Arsel and Marie-Agnès Parmentier. The anticipated conference date is July 17-19, 2019. Montreal will be a wonderful cultural locale for our conference and Zeynep and Marie-Agnes are planning an exciting and innovative program that will be themed around the project of envisioning the future of consumer culture theory. So mark your calendars!!

And let’s not forget the excellent conference we have on the more immediate horizon hosted by University of Southern Denmark, Odense [co-chaired by Dannie Kjeldgaard and Domen Bajde] on July 28 June – 1 July 2018. To avoid any confusion, this conference will be a beautiful swan!

For the record, CCT-Odense will be 13th annual CCT conference. [And again to avoid any possible confusion, 13 is not an unlucky number. In fact, “This Fable is Intended for You” is number 13 in the official Hans Christian Andersen Center’s register of Andersen’s literary works [and I have it on questionable authority that H.C. Anderson meant to write, “This CCT Conference is Intended for You.”]

Ia. On the topic of conferences, I think it is high time for more formalization of CCTC’s institutional memory. In that spirit, below is a list of our past conferences sites, and co-chairs from the inaugural event to our upcoming 2018 and 2019 gatherings.

2006—University of Notre Dame, South Bend, IN (USA), co-chairs Russ Belk and John Sherry

2007—York University, Toronto, Canada, co-chairs Eileen Fischer, and John Sherry

2008—Suffolk University, Boston, MA (USA), co-chairs Anders Bengtsson and Giana
M. Eckhardt

2009)—University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI (USA), co-chairs John Branch, Markus Giesler, and David Wooten

2010—University of Wisconsin, Madison, WI (USA), co-chairs David Crockett and Craig Thompson

2011—Northwestern University, Evanston, Ill (USA), co-chairs Kent Grayson, Al Muñiz, and Hope Jensen Schau

2012—University of Oxford, Oxford, UK, co-chairs Søren Askegaard and Linda Scott

2013—University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ (USA), co-chairs Lisa Peñaloza and Linda Price

2014—Aalto University, Helsinki, Finland, co-chairs Diane Martin and John Schouten

2015—University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, AK (USA), co-chairs Jeff B. Murray and Anastasia Thyroff

2016—Skema Business School, Lille, France, co-chairs Diego Rinallo and Nil Toulouse-Ozcaglar

2017—University of California-Irvine, Anaheim, California, co-chairs Samantha Cross, Cecilia Ruvalcaba, and Alladi Venkatesh (conference site was the Disneyland Hotel)

2018—University of Southern Denmark, Odense, co-chairs Domen Bajde and Dannie

2019—Concordia University, Montreal Canada, co-chairs, Zeynep Arsel and Marie-Agnès Parmentier


II. Regional Community-Building Initiatives (SC4)

We have a great new regional initiative on the West Coast that is being organized by Deborah Heisley, Tonya Williams Bradford, Rob Kozinets, and Nick Pendarvis:

SC4 events for this academic year are under way:

Friday, October 20, 2017, 11:30a to 1p, University of California, Irvine
Hosted by: Tonya Williams Bradford
Presenter: Tonya Williams Bradford

Friday, November 17, 2017, 11:30a to 1p, California State University, Long Beach
Hosted by: Riston Moisio
Presenters: Soonkwan Hong; Terry Witkowski

Friday, January 19, 2018, 11:30a to 1p, Chapman University
Hosted by: Goken Coskuner-Balli
Presenter: Duygu Akdevelioglu

Friday, February 16, 2018, 11:30 to 1p
California State University, Northridge
Hosted by: Deborah Heisley
Presented by: Mariam Beruchashvili

Friday, April 20, 2018, 11:30a to 1p
University of Southern California
Hosted by: Rob Kozinets
Presenter: TBD

Friday, May 18, 2018, 11:30a to 1p, California State University, Los Angeles
Hosted by: Nick Pendarvis
Presenter: TBD

If you are in the area during one of these presentation dates, attending would be a great way to connect with community an,d if you would like to get on their presentation schedule, please contact one of the organizers.

While I am on the topic, let’s also give some props to the regional group that provided some of the inspiration for SC4—the Chicago Consumer Culture Community (C4), which has now organized for the last several years by Kent Grayson, Alan Malter, and Al Muñiz. C4’s upcoming events and past history can be accessed through this link:

III. Consumer Culture Theory: The Text Book

About 2 years ago, Matthew Waters of Sage approached myself and Eric Arnould to write a CCT-oriented textbook that would target advanced undergraduate classes and master level courses. Sage’s marketing research indicated a pent-up demand for such book that would offer an accessible, “one-step shopping” compendium of CCT research (with cases, discussion questions, and class room exercises). Though deeply intrigued by the prospect of expanding the pedagogical influence of CCT research, we found the scale of the task too daunting and declined. However, Sage was not willing to accept “no” for an answer and we eventually forged a compromise solution that, in the end produced a volume, far more comprehensive and far more enriching, than anything that Eric and myself could have created on our own.

We recruited a stellar group of CCT scholars with respective expertise in the specific chapter topics that we believed constituted essential components of a CCT-oriented course. The book will be officially launched at CCT-Odense. Matt Waters will be at the conference with advance copies to review. Importantly, all royalties from the book will go directly to the Consumer Culture Theory Consortium to help fund need-based scholarships and other outreach initiatives.

Some details on the book itself below:

Consumer Culture Theory (SAGE Publishing)

Edited by Eric J. Arnould & Craig J. Thompson

Consumer Culture Theory (CCT) has emerged as a distinctive field of study in recent years that synthesizes diverse subjects such as anthropology, cultural studies, marketing, sociology and political theory to provide new insights into consumers’ relationships to the marketplace and the influence of commercial action on culture. This book, edited by two leading scholars in CCT, contains contributions by many of its leading researchers and distills this interdisciplinary field into a concise accessible overview for students and early career researchers. It lays down the key themes, concepts and theoretical areas of CCT; explains why they are useful in understanding consumption and marketplace phenomena; and shows how they can be applied to a wide range of research contexts.

Drawing on real world scenarios, reflective tasks and international case studies to help aid theoretical understanding and critical thinking, the text is designed to support a course in CCT, supplement related study, and guide postgraduate students in writing a CCT-related thesis. It is the go-to text for anyone who is new or fairly new to CCT or looking for an integrative compendium of CCT research and its implications.


“What is Consumer Culture Theory?” – Eric Arnould and Craig Thompson

Part 1—Consumption and Identity

Chapter 1: “Consumers Volitional Identity Projects” – Hope Schau

Chapter 2: “Family & Collective Identity Projects,” – Amber Epp and Tandy Thomas

Chapter 3: “Critical Reflections on Consumer Identity,” – Michelle Weinberger and David Crockett

Part 2—Marketplace Cultures

Chapter 4: “Consumption Tribes and Collective Performance,” – Bernard Cova and Avi Shankar

Chapter 5: “Consumer Produced, Emergent and Hybrid Markets,” – Daiane Scaraboto and Eminegul Karababa

Chapter 6: “Glocalization of Marketplace Cultures,” – Burçak Ertimur and Gokcen Coskuner-Balli

Part 3—The Socio-historic Patterning of Consumption

Chapter 7: “Social class” – Paul Henry and Mary-Louise Caldwell

Chapter 8: “Gender” – Luca Visconti, Shona Bettany, and Pauline MacLaran

Chapter 9: “Ethnicity” – Robert L. Harrison III, Kevin D. Thomas, and Samantha N. N. Cross

Chapter 10: “Global Mobilities,” Fleura Bardhi, Marius Luedicke, and Zahra Sharifonnasabi

Part 4—The Ideological Shaping of Consumers’ Identity Projects

Chapter 11: “Neoliberalism and Consumption,” – Ela Veresiu and Markus Giesler

Chapter 12: “Social Distinction and Practices of Taste,” Zeynep Arsel and Jonathan Bean

Chapter 13: “Consumer Resistance and Subaltern Consumption,” Dominique Roux and Elif Izberk‐Bilgin

Chapter 14: “Linking CCT and Consumer Research: Consumers’ Mobilization of Co-Created Resources,” – Craig Thompson, Debbie MacInnis, and Eric Arnould

IV. Reflections on CCT and its Relationship to the Broader Consumer Research Field

Let me begin with a mea culpa, over the last few years I have more or less disengaged from the Association for Consumer Research annual conference, preferring to attend smaller-scaled and more socio-culturally focused gatherings like our own CCT conference. However, I re-engaged this year at the 2017 ACR conference in San Diego, CA. and that experience led me to rethink my own orientation, which importantly does not seem isolated to my specific circumstances.

After a multi-year hiatus from ACR, my first and most pressing realization is that the size of the ACR conference had significantly expanded. Based on the program (and an admittedly unscientific assessment of who was attending), much of that growth seems to have been driven by the consumer psychology paradigm in its various manifestations, ranging from behavioral economics, decision theory, evolutionary psyche, and social psyche approaches to CB.

My second observation is CCT representation at the conference has been scaled down on two key dimensions. First, there just aren’t as many of us attending the conference. Of course, CCT still had a critical mass of scholars in San Diego but it was a smaller absolute group than had frequented the conference, say ten years ago (and we are now swimming in a bigger ocean). Also, there seemed to be fewer CCT-oriented papers and sessions in relative terms on the program. Beyond these very rough numerical assessments, I am more concerned about the relative sequestering of CCT-oriented sessions. During the conference, I went to as many of these sessions as I could and most were reasonably well attended (20-50 people in the audiences) but predominantly speaking to the relatively small faction of CCT researchers. Session after session, it was the same faces in the room.

Again going back a few years, the situation had been different. Of course, there were CCT oriented (then classified as “interpretivist”) sessions that were primarily attended by those working in the paradigm. However, these more specialized, in-group sessions were complemented by other CCT sessions that brought in an interdisciplinary audience and “packed the room.” Perhaps the best exemplar of such cross-over sessions were those that addressed the socio-cultural aspects of branding (cultural branding, brand community, brand meaning co-creation). Their generalized appeal reflected that CCT research was driving a central disciplinary conversation. In those moments, CCT was not only there, it could not be ignored.

Though many of us in the CCT community have intellectual affinities with anthropology, sociology, history, cultural studies, feminist studies, the institutional reality is that many of us are also situated in marketing departments and/or seeking to have an impact in the consumer research sphere.

So my short message is that I believe it would be a regressive error for our community to abdicate our hard won space in the ACR conference (or to remain cocooned in a mini-CCT conference embedded in ACR).

While our annual CCT conference is an invaluable opportunity for community building and addressing in a focused away theoretical questions and nuances related to the socio-cultural and historical aspects of consumption, it is equally vital that we continue to circulate and establish the importance of those ideas in the broader consumer research community. Encapsulation does not serve us well, institutionally and I would add intellectually.

While I encourage our younger scholars to attend the CCT conference—which offers very unique opportunities for intellectual enrichment and networking—it is equally important to have a presence at the major ACR conference as well [I realize that travel resources are limited for many but getting to both, is a valuable goal worth fighting for and doing what it takes to find the necessary funding].

Those of us who have been around a bit longer and are more established (and I return to my opening mea culpa) also need to have a legitimating presence at the ACR conference.

Most significantly, our community needs to again start driving the dialogues that shape how consumer researchers think about core constructs. At a later date, I will offer some ideas on strategies and approaches that might contribute to that agenda.

I will close by highlighting that the 2018 Association for Consumer Research Conference is one that CCT research will want to attend on its own merits.

The conference theme is “Trust in Doubt: Consuming in a Post-truth World” and it will be co-chaired by Rob Kozinets, Tiffany White and Andy Gershoff [Dallas, TX (Hilton Anatole), October 11-14, 2018).

Hope to see y’all at Odense and Dallas,

Craig Thompson
Your Prez, CCTC

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