JMM Special Issue Call for Papers: Deadline for submissions 1 October 2020

Deromanticising the market: Advances in Consumer Culture Theory

Guest Editors: James Cronin, Lancaster University, UK & James Fitchett, Leicester University, UK

In efforts to expand our understanding of human-material interactions, research that falls within the remit of Consumer Culture Theory (CCT) has increasingly drawn upon more critical toolkits and reflexive analytical modes of enquiry. CCT research has also sought to venture beyond a hyper-individualising agency-centric epistemology to account more for the intersection of ideological, historical, and sociological phenomena on the shaping of consumer publics and consumption systems (Askegaard & Linnet, 2011; Cronin & Malone, 2019; Giesler, 2008; Lambert, 2019; Venkatesh & Peñaloza, 2006). These expanded analytical and epistemological orientations have helped to encourage and support a vibrant canon of work that continues to produce a wide-ranging assortment of theorisations constituting structural and multiple levels of analysis (Thompson, Arnould & Giesler, 2013).

In order to further ensure CCT’s continued breadth of enquiry and reflexivity about claims to knowledge, there is a need to break past the ontological market-centrism that dominates the tradition and begin to think differently about the way both the subjects of our analyses and us, as researchers, view, analyse and evaluate material life and social relations. There is a need to reflect on whether the lexicon, frameworks, and conceptual blueprints of CCT remain relevant for thinking beyond the marketplace and appreciating social life “as it is” without interjecting it with market-centric language and assumptions. To universally conceptualise social actors – whether medical patients, athletes, commuters or anyone else – as consumers and to acritically read all possible social acts as forms of consumption reinforces the logic and ethos of the marketplace rather than reflects the full and variegated complexity of how things might really be (Saren, 2015).

Various writers within and outside of the study of consumer culture have detected a feeling that we may be living in the “end times” of market-based capitalism as we know it and urge us to challenge the assumptions of the current economic ordering of society and our analyses of it (Cova, Maclaran & Bradshaw, 2013; Fisher, 2009; Sizek, 2010). It is in this special issue that we encourage thinking how we might “hold a mirror to ourselves and become a much more politically reflexive community of scholars, who once again critique the macrostructures in which our work is located” (Cova et al., 2013, p. 222) and, as a community, “design research spaces where the logic of consumption can be questioned in more critical terms, perhaps examining contexts where consumption either does not, and arguably should not, be the primary unit of analysis” (Fitchett, Patsiaouras & Davies, 2014, p. 503).

Specifically, we call for work that 1) reflects knowingly and critically upon imposing a market-based logic and analytic orientation to lived behaviour and environments; 2) identifies and locates moments of ostensible consumption within their wider ideological operations and effects; and 3) challenges, de-romanticises, de-territorialises and provides alternative explanations to the taken-for-granted functions and meanings people derive through their engagement with material resources mediated through markets. Where common parlance of CCT equips us to report upon, and even extol, the richly productive and liberating dimensions of the market as a site that “provides consumers with an expansive and heterogeneous palette of resources from which to construct individual and collective identities” (Arnould & Thompson, 2005, p. 871), we encourage the discipline to engage in a wider balance of critiques of the aggregating and dehumanising operation of the market with its fostering of common stresses and dissatisfactions, intense social competition, depoliticisation, reflexive impotence, existential lack, meritocratic tendencies and shared – but objectless – sense of exploitation. This requires CCT researchers to critically examine some of their own intellectual allegiances, assumptions and expectations that have tended to reproduce accounts of consumer culture that are broadly consistent and complicit with market logics and neoliberal ideologies.


For this special issue, we welcome work that seeks to discuss, problematise and offer alternatives to the ontological legitimacy of consumer subjectivities and the underpinning ideology that assigns value to any or all cultural objects and exchanges. Following critical scholars such as Tadajewski and Brownlie (2008) and Fournier and Grey (2000), it is important for us to engage in “ontological denaturalisation” whereby we recognise that the consumer culture we have familiarised ourselves with through disciplinary terminology and theories is not a factual and objective reality; it is a very specific ontological imagining that can be rethought of and reconceptualised along different lines.

We ask: how transferable are the language and frameworks of CCT to a post-market, de-growth world?

Specifically, we invite theoretical and empirical analyses that offer new paradigms, new language, and new perspectives that are intended to revitalise and reimagine CCT so that its empirical researchers will not acritically assume contemporary liberal capitalism as a fait accompli. We are particularly interested in work that moves beyond the background assumptions that pervade the discipline, challenges the notion of the marketplace as the axis around which everything must revolve and considers instead the effects of marketing as a societal practice.

Possible research topics include, but are not limited to:

  • Alternatives to “consumer” as the master narrative
  • Novel directions in theorising entanglements – beyond the individualistic axiology of consumer research
  • Thinking beyond middle-class marketing theory and consumer research
  • Tales of capitalist realism
  • The politics of socialisation in a finite world
  • Marketing and consumerism in their wider societal and historical contexts
  • Ideology & the political economy of consumption
  • Defining and theorising post-market worlds
  • Epistemological reflexivity
  • Uses and abuses of the consumption metaphor
  • Dark-side of marketing
  • Effects of capitalist normalcy in contemporary society
  • Postpolitics and catastrophism
  • Necrocapitalism and consumption
  • Inequality and death in a consumption-driven economy
  • Revitalising post-socialist theories and concepts
  • Post dialectical thought, marketing theory and consumer research

We also encourage:

  • Re-enquiries of seminal CCT theories with critical ontological alterations
  • Work that reimagines, complicates, critiques or defends existing consumer-centric investigations
  • New theoretical supplements to CCT that are not currently captured in Arnould and Thompson’s (2005, 2007) fourfold theoretics

Submission Requirements:
Authors should submit manuscripts of between 8,000–10,000 words (excluding tables, references, captions, footnotes and endnotes). All submissions must strictly follow the guidelines for the Journal of Marketing Management. These are available at the journal website.

Manuscripts should be submitted online using the Journal of Marketing Management ScholarOne Manuscripts site ( New users should first create an account. Once a user is logged onto the site submissions should be made via the Author Centre. Authors should prepare and upload two versions of their manuscript. One should be a complete text, while in the second all document information identifying the author should be removed from the files to allow them to be sent anonymously to referees. When uploading files authors will then be able to define the non-anonymous version as “Complete paper with author details”, and the anonymous version as “Main document minus author information”. To submit your manuscript to the Special Issue choose “Special Issue Article” from the Manuscript Type list when you come to submit your paper. Also, when you come to the ‘Details and Comments’ page, answer ‘yes’ to the question ‘Is this manuscript a candidate for a special issue’ and select the Special Issue Title of Deromanticising the market in the text field provided.

Informal queries regarding guest editors’ expectations or the suitability of specific research topics should be directed to the Special Issue Editors:

• Dr James Cronin
• Professor James Fitchett

The closing date for submissions is 1 October 2020.

Technical queries about submissions can be referred to the Editorial Office:


Arnould, E. J., & Thompson, C. J. (2005). Consumer culture theory (CCT): Twenty years of research. Journal of Consumer Research, 31(4), 868-882.
Arnould, E., & Thompson, C. (2007). Consumer culture theory (and we really mean theoretics). In R. Belk & J. Sherry, J. (Eds.) Consumer Culture Theory (Research in Consumer Behavior, Vol. 11), pp. 3-22. Bingley; Emerald Group Publishing Limited.
Askegaard, S., & Linnet, J. T. (2011). Towards an epistemology of consumer culture theory: Phenomenology and the context of context. Marketing Theory, 11(4), 381-404.
Cova, B., Maclaran, P., & Bradshaw, A. (2013). Rethinking consumer culture theory from the postmodern to the communist horizon. Marketing Theory, 13(2), 213-225.
Cronin, J., & Malone, S. (2019). Lifeway alibis: The biographical bases for unruly bricolage. Marketing Theory, 19(2), 129-147.
Fournier, V., & Grey, C. (2000). At the critical moment: Conditions and prospects for critical management studies. Human relations, 53(1), 7-32.
Fitchett, J. A., Patsiaouras, G., & Davies, A. (2014). Myth and ideology in consumer culture theory. Marketing Theory, 14(4), 495-506.
Fisher, M. (2009). Capitalist Realism: Is There No Alternative? Ropley, UK: Zero Books.
Giesler, M. (2008). Conflict and compromise: drama in marketplace evolution. Journal of Consumer Research, 34(6), 739-753.
Lambert, A. (2019). Psychotic, acritical and precarious? A Lacanian exploration of the neoliberal consumer subject. Marketing Theory, 19(3), 329-346.
Saren, M. (2015). ‘Buy buy Miss American Pie’ The day the consumer died. Marketing Theory, 15(4), 565-569.
Tadajewski, M.K. & Brownlie, D. (2008). Critical Marketing: A Limit Attitude. In M. Tadajewski & D. Brownlie (Eds) Critical Marketing: Contemporary Issues in Marketing. West Sussex, UK: John Wiley & Sons.
Thompson, C. J., Arnould, E., & Giesler, M. (2013). Discursivity, difference, and disruption: Genealogical reflections on the consumer culture theory heteroglossia. Marketing Theory, 13(2), 149-174.
Venkatesh, A.i & Peñaloza, L. (2006). From Marketing to Markets: A Call for Paradigm Shift. In Jagdish N. Sheth & Rajendra S. Sisodia (Eds), Does Marketing Need Reform? Fresh Perspectives on the Future, pp.134-150. Armonk, N.Y.: M.E. Sharpe.
Žižek, S. (2011). Living in the end times. London: Verso.

This post is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, unless otherwise stated. Third party materials remain the copyright of the original rightsholder.