Understanding the hipster myth wins top consumer culture theory prizeCongratulations to Zeynep Arsel, who is the co-recipient of the 2011 Sidney J. Levy Award for her paper entitled "Demythologizing Consumption Practices."
The award competition is held annually, and the top prize is given to the best dissertation based paper published in an English-language marketing or consumer journal in the topic of Consumer Culture Theory. This year, two awards were given, and Arsel will share the accolade along with Michelle Weinberger of Northwestern University.
“Demythologizing Consumption Practices” looks at the intersection of indie culture and mass mediated hipster narrative, and the consumption patterns that emerge as a result of this cooptation. While most consumers gravitate towards buying items and ideas that help them to solidify a desired identity, ‘hipster’ purchases tend to place individuals in a classification that they don’t actually want to be associated with. This causes their identities to work overtime; they work at distancing themselves from the idea that what they buy defines who they are, and that they cannot be classified so simply into the hipster group.
In short, does a hipster want to be known as a hipster? The answer is no.
But this is not so easy, when the hipster label is so easily ascribed to such a large demographic of consumers. Some people claim that they might look like a hipster, but are not; others try to reclaim the hipster title, while others stand against it, stating that they are above such labels.
The last category suggests that the more someone tries to assert their independence from the idea that what we consume forms our identity, the more they end up being associated with another marketplace myth; the myth of consumer sovereignty. The idea is that a consumer judiciously chooses what to buy from all available identity markers, and ultimately represents themselves as independent from the marketplace.
“As a young academic that took the risk of spending numerous years on a single project, getting my work validated by top scholars in the field is the ultimate vote of confidence. But above all, seeing my name spelled next to Sidney Levy’s is the biggest award,” explains Arsel.
The John Molson School of Business wishes to congratulate Zeynep on her award.
Posted September 19, 2012