Amber Epp is an Associate Professor of Marketing at the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s School of Business. Her research focuses on understanding collective phenomenon including the interplay of family and relational identities, collective goals, network agency and group decision-making. Her work has been published in the Journal of Consumer Research and the Journal of Marketing and she has co-authored book chapters on qualitative data analysis, family consumption behavior and assemblage theory. Professor Epp’s dissertation received the inaugural Sidney J. Levy Award for outstanding Consumer Culture Theory research, and her research has been funded by the Marketing Science Institute. She also serves on the editorial review board for Journal of Marketing and Journal of Consumer Research and is a member of the JCR Policy Board. Professor Epp currently teaches Consumer Behavior at both the undergraduate and MBA levels. In addition, she has taught Services Marketing, Marketing Management and Honors Introductory Marketing.
From Symbolic Violence to Revolution: How Does Social Change Impact Marketplace Marginalization?
In times of cultural change, when society reflects upon and even revises its dominant beliefs and values, the social sanctions once associated with marginalized consumers in the marketplace can lessen. However, gains in social acceptance are often uneven across consumers. Adopting Bourdieu’s work on symbolic violence (1989, 1998) as an enabling lens, and based on depth-interviews with same-sex couples and participant observation in the marketplace, this study explicates how social change is filtered to the marketplace. In doing so, we identify multiple roadblocks – including variation in local and industry norms – that systematically produce diversity in experiences of marketplace marginalization. In particular, we observe the masculine/feminine gender binary is so taken for granted in the wedding industry that even companies and consumers who are trying to embrace social change and reduce marginalization can inhibit change. Further, our findings uncover key misalignments between consumer and marketer reflexivity that account for roadblocks on the path to social change.