Consumer culture and Retailing
The field of retail marketing has undoubtedly produced an impressive and insightful body of work. However, while this research has been valuable and taught us a great deal about the world of retailing it also tends to view retailing, shopping and consumption from a specific vantage point. Preoccupied with managerial issues these scholars often take a more psychological or technical approach to retailing. Missing from most mainstream retail marketing accounts is the socio-cultural dimension of retailing, shopping and consumption. While consumption research within for example sociology, anthropology, cultural geography, and certain streams of marketing has clearly shown that consumption practices are inherently social and cultural, consumers still are within retail marketing for the most part treated as rational autonomous self-interested calculative agents. Similarly, while social and cultural research has shown that retail spaces are performative spaces where identities, gender, ethnicity, experiences, subcultures, ideologies and multiple meanings are produced and reproduced, retail marketing tends to treat retail spaces mainly as technical and psychological spaces.
Against this background, our aim is to explore the socio-cultural mechanism involved in retailing. We see retailing practices and spaces as intrinsically linked to broader social and cultural processes. To understand why some store concepts, marketing practices and products work and others fail; we have to understand the socio-cultural processes underlying the practices of retailing, shopping and consumption. Likewise to more fully understand the role of retailing in society we must understand how retailing practices and spaces shape contemporary consumer culture. That is, we have to understand the cultural discourse marketing is drawing on and we have to examine what cultural notions marketing practices are reproducing. Drawing on social and cultural theory and using interpretive qualitative methods we set out to examine retailing, shopping, and consumption practices.