11th April 2014

Consumption Markets & Culture Best Paper awards 2013

Consumption Markets & Culture is pleased to announce its Best Paper award for articles published in 2013. They will be available free, for a limited time, on the journal’s website: http://www.tandfonline.com/toc/gcmc20/current

Hélène de Burgh-Woodman & Dylan King (2013) Sustainability and the human/nature connection: a critical discourse analysis of being “symbolically” sustainable, Consumption Markets & Culture, 16:2, 145-168.

Environmental sustainability as a social and marketing discourse has gathered momentum since the 1990s, forcing companies and consumers to consider how to apprehend this shift. However, this has proved to be challenging, given that sustainability itself remains a fuzzy concept. This paper argues that this fuzziness resides in the impetus for sustainability itself, suggesting that our concern for the environment is driven by an existing, historically embedded sense of human/nature connection rather than a concern for future decimation as typically thought. This paper performs a critical discourse analysis of Toyota’s hybrid car website, showing how their discourses of human/nature connectedness and technological innovation draw from, and build, their participation in the sustainability conversation. It is argued here that Toyota’s technology/ethical consumption discourse constructions are underpinned by the mobilisation of a “human/nature connection” that offers explanatory purpose as to why we should care about sustainability in the first place. The discourse analysis offers details on how Toyota has created an evocative campaign that tacitly connects with the broader social concern for sustainability while eliding the complications of its own position in this concern. The paper concludes that Toyota’s marketing campaign provides an example of how the human/nature connection underpins or provides motivation for sustainability but also works to obfuscate sustainability as actionable agenda as a result.


We also awarded two Honorable Mentions:

Aliakbar Jafari & Christina Goulding (2013) Globalization, reflexivity, and the project of the self: a virtual intercultural learning process, Consumption Markets & Culture, 16:1, 65-90.

In this paper, the authors examine the consumption practices of young adult Iranians in the context of cultural globalization. Based on the analysis of qualitative data collected through participatory observation, in-depth interviews, and focus groups with 28 individuals in Tehran and Karaj, the authors demonstrate how, through its cultural flow (circulation of images, signs, products, etc.) globalization stimulates reflexivity in “an ongoing process of virtual intercultural learning” through which people reconstitute their lives and change their everyday consumption practices and lifestyle choices. The key contribution of the study lies in the fact that it examines consumers’ subjective consumption experiences in a society where the traditional/institutional dynamics enforce their own values and ideal lifestyles on individuals.


Sofie Møller Bjerrisgaard, Dannie Kjeldgaard & Anders Bengtsson (2013) Consumer–brand assemblages in advertising: an analysis of skin, identity, and tattoos in ads, Consumption Markets & Culture, 16:3, 223-239. 

This paper discusses how the use of tattoos in advertising renders diverse brand–consumer assemblages visible. In considering advertising practitioners as professionals of entanglement, the paper emphasizes the embeddedness of practitioners’ use of tattoo symbolism in institutionalized marketing systems and in the cultural history of tattooing. In accordance with the recent emphasis on the importance of material devices for understanding contemporary sociality, this paper presents a semiotic analysis of a convenience sample of advertisements depicting tattoos. Tattoos are productive for the study of brand–consumer assemblages because they are situated on the human skin, which is a mediator between the individual and the socio-material world. Furthermore, tattoos reproduce discourses of both mainstream fashion and deviant subcultural identification, which imbue tattoo symbolism with communicative potency. This analysis demonstrates how the emergence of brand tattoos in advertising challenges the dominant consumer centrism in consumer research and suggests a networked, emerging understanding of the subject in which agency is distributed in socio-technical assemblages.


Russell Belk, Schulich School of Business, Canada, Laurie Meamber, George Mason University, USA, and Stephanie O’Donohoe, University of Edinburgh, UK served as judges for this award.