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Thesis defences

PhD Oral Exam - Aya Aboelenien, Marketing

Two Essays on Morality and Consumption

Thursday, July 16, 2020
1 p.m. – 4 p.m.

This event is free


School of Graduate Studies


Daniela Ferrer



When studying for a doctoral degree (PhD), candidates submit a thesis that provides a critical review of the current state of knowledge of the thesis subject as well as the student’s own contributions to the subject. The distinguishing criterion of doctoral graduate research is a significant and original contribution to knowledge.

Once accepted, the candidate presents the thesis orally. This oral exam is open to the public.


Morality in consumption practices do not necessarily follow a clear script but rather evolve as they are practiced. Individuals attain specific values and beliefs through their primary socialization, which can change through their adult lives. In addition, moral values are not essentialized but contextually relevant. Morality is of interest to academics, marketers, and policymakers, given the existence of multiple, and at times contradictory, moral ideologies shaping consumption. In addition, moral forms in consumption are negotiated among the various marketplace actors. However, the literature has rather been uninvolved with such dynamics. To put forward this nature of morality, my dissertation investigates the role of morality in shaping consumption practices and the interwoven dynamics of the social and the marketplace.

The first essay provides a meta-synthesis on the literature in marketing, sociology, and psychology on morality. The paper aims at remedying the current drawbacks in the study of morality in consumption. I offer a new reconceptualization that advocates for a dynamic, adaptable, relational, and contextual judgment on the morality of consumption objects, practices, or fields. Guided by the re-conceptualization, I put forward a typology of moralized domains composed of five types: harmonized, divided, dispersed, breached, and debated. Finally, the essay provides diverse theoretical implications and substantive areas of empirical application.

The second essay investigates the influence of acquisition of new moral value on practice(s) and the role of the social circle and the market in the performance of the new practice. Through an empirical study of vegans, I theorize the journey of moralized practice transformation. My findings show a two-phase process of transformation. The first phase involves changes in the primary practice(s) and takes place over four stages: awakening, destabilization, reconfiguration, and re-habituation. Second, the changes in the primary practice(s) extend to other connected practices, eventually leading to their transformation. The paper adds to practice theory and provides managers with recommendations for appealing to consumers during the various stages of practice transformation.

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