Responding to a Call to Arms — Morality Appraisals in Consumer Responsibilization
In recent decades, American “pro-gun” lobbying groups, politicians, courts, legislators, and market actors have called Americans to arms by seeking to responsibilize individuals to use firearms to address the societal problem of crime. Efforts include asserting that the constitutional right to keep and bear arms entitles individuals to engage in responsibilized behaviors.
Using interview and online discussion data, this research investigates consumers’ responses to responsibilization for this morally fraught set of behaviors, and the role of consumers’ various understandings of the right to bear arms in these responses. Findings show that acceptance of responsibilization is a matter of proportionality; consumers accept responsibilization for a proportion of armed defense scenarios and reject it for the remainder. Acceptance is determined by their appraisals of the morality of four key factors in responsibilization sub-processes (Giesler & Veresiu 2014).
Consumers’ understanding of the constitutional right serves as a heuristic in these appraisals, with some understandings leading consumers to accept responsibilization across a much larger proportion of scenarios than others. Contributions include illustrating response to responsibilization as a proportionality; illuminating consumers’ active role in appraising responsibilizing efforts; and demonstrating how consumers come to understand a responsibilized behavior as a moral entitlement.
Aimee Huff is an associate professor of marketing at Oregon State University, and currently on sabbatical at Saint Mary’s University in Halifax. She earned her PhD at the Ivey Business School, Western University; her MBS at University College Cork, Ireland; and her BCom(H) at University of Guelph.
Huff's research explores consumer culture in contexts that are socially contentious, and “wicked” problems in markets and marketing. She studies American gun culture, including consumer relationships with firearms, armed self-defense, consumer interest groups, and the American gun market system.
Other projects focus on the relationship between product design and market legitimation in the context of recreational cannabis, and on the emotional complexities of purchasing market-based services for intimacy and care. Her research has been published in Journal of Consumer Research, Journal of Business Ethics, Journal of Business Research, Journal of the Association for Consumer Research, Academy of Management Learning & Education, European Journal of Marketing, Journal of Macromarketing, Journal of Marketing Management, and Journal of Consumer Affairs. Huff's research also appears in The Conversation, and has been covered in mainstream outlets, including the Associated Press, The New York Times, NBC Universal, Bloomberg Businessweek, and Glamour.
Huff was co-chair of the 2022 Consumer Culture Theory Conference. She currently serves an associate editor at Journal of Business Research, an editorial review board member at Journal of Consumer Research, and a manuscript review board member at Journal of Macromarketing.