Mapping Consumer Power: An Integrative Framework for Marketing and Consumer Research
European Journal of Marketing, Vol. 40, No. 9/10, pp. 950-971, 2006
41 Pages Posted: 29 Jun 2006
To help shape a more cohesive research program in marketing and consumer research, this paper presents a systematic effort to integrate current research on consumer empowerment with highly influential theories of power. We develop a conceptual overview of power consisting of three dominant theoretical models onto which we map existing consumer empowerment research. A synthetic review focuses on three perspectives of consumer power: consumer sovereignty, cultural power and discursive power, drawing from sociological, philosophical and economic literature. These models are then applied to consumer research to illuminate research applications and insights. Research of consumer empowerment has grown significantly over the last decade. Yet, researchers drawing from a variety of intellectual and methodological traditions have generated a multitude of heuristic simplifications and mid-level theories of power to inform their empirical and conceptual explorations. This reviews helps clarify consumer empowerment, and offers a useful map for future research. Researchers in consumer empowerment need to understand the historical development of power, and to contextualize research within conflicting perspectives on empowerment. The paper makes several contributions: 1) organizes a currently cluttered field of consumer empowerment research, 2) connects consumer and marketing research to high-level theorizations of power, and 3) outlines specific avenues for future research.
Keywords: consumer power, consumer research, methodological approaches, marketing theory
JEL Classification: M30, M31, Z10
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation