This Year's Events
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October 3, 2014, 12:00 - 1:30 PM
Pursuing the Extra-Ordinary: The Transformative Role of Intra-Personal Consumption Ritualizations
Chadwick J. Miller and John L. Lastovicka, Arizona State University, Department of Marketing


John Lastovicka will be joining us to present and discuss recent work with his co-author, Chadwick Miller. Prior consumer research has primarily examined the inter-personal meanings that rituals convey in facilitating consumption communities and social order. In contrast, this research considers how solitary consumption ritualizations—that is: rituals developed by consumers for their own private use—convey intra-personal meanings to themselves in their pursuit of a transformation to the extra-ordinary. In an interpretive study of baseball players, we empirically identify two new categories of rituals; namely, self-efficacy ritualizations and cue ritualizations. We show how these improvised ritualizations psychologically transform consumers. While informants are unable to influence their adversaries or the wider environment, they endeavored to transform themselves psychologically. When perishable fetish objects failed as enduring sources of self-transformation, ritualizations were performed with the intent of becoming more self-confident, more task-focused, and more intuitive. An intuitive state is associated with less self-monitoring, automaticity, and the effortlessness and rapid-fire execution of highly practiced skills. Informants referred to this intuitive state as “being in the zone,” meaning the psychological state of flow. To the degree to which a change in the self and a reactive change in the environment are intimately connected, then transformative ritualizations may indeed shift ordinary consumers into a better position from which to achieve extra-ordinary performance.


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October 31, 2014, 12:00 - 1:30 PM
Brand Volunteers: Unpaid Contributors to the Marketplace
Bernard Cova, Kedge Business School, Department of Marketing


Bernard Cova will present and discuss recent work about what he names brand volunteering. Through collaborative marketing approaches, companies invite consumers to provide unpaid contributions. Companies commonly do this in the realm of brand communities. The key question Bernard Cova addresses is: How can a company lead consumers to offer unpaid contributions to brands as an act of free will? To answer this question, he develops a framework based on volunteer commitment research to study the actions a company takes to engage consumers in unpaid work for brands. He uses this framework to analyse the online collaboration promoted by the carmaker Fiat with its brand community of Alfisti and the offline collaboration promoted by the endurance events organizer Tough Mudder with its community of Mudders. The results introduce the notion of brand volunteers: brand enthusiasts who are committed to providing unpaid work for the exclusive benefit of the brand. With this notion, the research discusses the possibility of exploiting consumers in value co-creation and the existence of compromises, signifying an agreement between two collaborating parties in which one party (here, the consumers) temporarily puts aside possible sources of conflict.

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February 6, 2015, 12:00 - 1:30 PM
Royal Fever: The British Royal Family Brand Complex
Cele Otnes, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Department of Business Administration


Abstract to be announced in December 2014.

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March 6, 2015, 12:00 - 1:30 PM
Title to Be Announced
Eileen Fischer, York University, Department of Marketing


Abstract to be announced in January 2015.

Eileen was selected as our "fly-in" speaker for 2014-15--someone who does not live within driving distance of Chicago and whose travel expenses are paid by our generous sponsors. As is true every year, nominations and voting for the "fly in" speaker were open to everyone on the C4 mailing list. Thanks to all who participated!

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April 3, 2015, 12:00 - 1:30 PM
Title to Be Announced
Amber Epp, University of Wisconsin, Department of Marketing


Abstract to be announced in January 2015.

Amber was selected as our 2014-15 "drive-in" speaker--someone who does not live in the Chicago area but who lives within reasonable driving distance and whose travel expenses are paid by our generous sponsors. Thanks to Alan Malter and his committee (Ashlee Humphreys and Michelle Weinberger) for choosing this year's speaker!

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May 8, 2015, 12:00 - 1:30 PM
The Bricolage of Death: Jewish Possessions and the Fashioning of the Prisoner Elite in Auschwitz-Birkenau, 1942-1945
Noah Benninga, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Department of History


Between spring of 1942 and January of 1945, nearly one million Jews were deported to Auschwitz-Birkenau. Packing as though for resettlement, they brought with them whatever concentrated wealth and material goods they could. These goods were taken to the Effektenlager (‘Kanada’) to be sorted and shipped ‘back’ to the Reich, but in reality ‘leaked’ to all those involved. The Nazi authorities in fact allowed their limited circulation within the prisoner population for a variety of reasons, where they provided the material basis for the prisoner aristocracy and ‘middle management’ – totaling 15-20% of a population which at its high point approached 150,000. For this relatively thin stratum of prisoner functionaries, life in Auschwitz regained a ‘semblance of normality’, even becoming – at the highest positions – opulent. Using published accounts by survivors I examine the uses to which the privileged elite put their wealth: the creation of a bricolage economy and the extent to which it merited the use of the term ‘fashion’.

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