Consumers’ Sociopolitical Imaginaries - Articles on Consumer Resistance and Responsibilization in an Era of Capitalist Realism

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School of Business | Doctoral thesis (article-based)
Degree programme
47 + app. 115
Aalto University publication series DOCTORAL THESES, 54/2023
The following dissertation consists of three independent Consumer Culture Theory (CCT) research articles and a synthesizing introduction. In the introduction, I use Mark Fisher's (2009) 'capitalist realism' concept as a theoretical lens and organizing device to briefly review two CCT literature streams (consumer resistance and consumer responsibilization) foundational to my articles and position the three articles accordingly. Next, I draw from historical philosophy of science debates in CCT to sketch the epistemological foundations and research methods of each of my articles. After, I include each dissertation article. The first article, published in Marketing Theory, is a quasi-case study of r/wallstreetbets in which a group of rogue amateur investors coordinated on reddit to bankrupt several hedge funds through a 'short squeeze'. Using non-representational theory, my co-author and I critically evaluate the potential of consumer resistance when matched up against global financial markets. The second article, a netnographic study of doomsday preppers, draws from the sociology of risk literature to depict doomsday prepping as a 'reflexively modern' form of consumer responsibilization with a uniquely optimistic doomsday mythology that trades off with engaging in collective political efforts to reduce systemic risks in the first place. The third article is an ethnographic and netnographic study of Street Fight Radio, a grassroot, populist political comedy radio show and podcast that encourages its fans to eschew financial consumer responsibilization and instead develop collective economic protections from markets. Drawing from Foucauldian theory, I bridge the consumer resistance and consumer responsibilization literatures to introduce an original theoretical framework that describes how subversive media consumption encourages resistance to consumer responsibilization and shapes a post-responsibilized consumer subjectivity.
The author has not given permission for Aaltodoc -publishing.
Supervising professor
Arnould, Eric, Prof. Emeritus, Aalto University, Department of Marketing, Finland
Thesis advisor
Weijo, Henri, Dr., Aalto University, Finland
Hietanen, Joel, Dr., University of Helsinki, Finland
capitalist realism, consumer responsibilization, consumer resistance, politics of consumption, consumption of politics
  • [Publication 1]: Jones, Hunter and Joel Hietanen. (2022), “The r/Wallstreetbets ‘War Machine’: Explicating Dynamics of Consumer Resistance and Capture,” Marketing Theory,
    DOI: 10.1177/14705931221114172 View at publisher
  • [Publication 2]: Jones, Hunter and Eric Arnould. “How Reflexive Modernization and Optimistic Doomsday Fantasies Pattern Tragically Individualized Consumer Responsibilization”. 60 pages. Submitted to Journal of Consumer Research in 2022. Unpublished article, under review
  • [Publication 3]: Jones, Hunter. “Breaking the Pact: Resisting Consumer Responsibilization through the RIOT Framework”. 60 pages. Unpublished article