Exploring the cultural logic of translocal marketplace cultures : essays on new methods and empirical insights

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School of Business | Doctoral thesis (article-based) | Defence date: 2010-05-21
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Degree programme
170 s.
Acta Universitatis oeconomicae Helsingiensis, A, 364
The aim of this doctoral research is to explore new forms of cultural production that are currently transforming the global marketplace cultures of today. Prior research has given rise to a number of viewpoints on how we should think about the accelerating globalization of markets and what particular cultural dynamics are at play in shaping the constantly evolving marketplace cultures. These include approaches stressing the logics of cultural assimilation or adaptation, models of cultural globalization and glocalization as well as the postmodern fragmentation of markets. This thesis maps out central tendencies in cultural theory regarding these approaches and directs attention to the logics of ‘translocal’ cultural production, emphasizing the role of translocal practices and communities as central constituents of transnational marketplace cultures. Digitalized and neo-tribal forms of cultural production are investigated as particular empirical examples of such emerging modes of translocal marketplace cultures. In addition, the thesis elaborates on new methods and a conceptual perspective suitable for their study. Four essays interrogate a series of interlinked research issues and form the main output of this doctoral research. Two of the essays are methodological and two empirical illustrations of the proposed methods. Essay I investigates how netnographic methods can offer a better understanding of the transnational nature of online cultural phenomena and argues that a better understanding of the new ‘translocal sites’, such as transnational online communities and consumer networks, can open up new research opportunities on an increasingly global consumer culture. Essay II gives an empirical illustration of netnographic methods and investigates the nature of translocal cultural production in web-based communities by examining new forms of environmental dialogue and political participation in a global traveller website. Essay III explores how videographic methods can be used in the study of consumer and marketplace cultures, thus paving the way for the final Essay IV in which videography is applied in a multi-sited ethnography of a translocal, neo-tribal consumer culture in extreme sports. Empirical insights are based on two primary sets of data: netnographic data gathered from online community (Essays II) and ethnographic data gathered from five countries (Essay IV). The findings demonstrate that, most importantly, consumer culture and markets can no longer be conceived or studied only in terms of national, territorial, geographical or locally bound identity or community. This research argues that a distinctive cultural logic which is inherently translocal, i.e. transnational but local in various localities and sites, is currently transforming marketplace cultures. It views markets as gradually disintegrated, rootless and de-territorial entities that are connected primarily through sociability established via translocal practices. These practices on the other hand are constantly being produced, negotiated and contested in transnational communities of people, including online communities, gathered around particular consumption activities. Regarding the existing literature, the proposed perspective calls attention to the ultimate site of the marketplace, re-conceptualizing it as continuously evolving and translocal ‘social site’ in which participants engage in. Building on practice theory, this site consists of both mental and bodily practice elements (such as doings and sayings) as well as material arrangements (setups of material objects which compose the entities where practices are carried out). This site is neither static nor bound to a location and therefore by studying it new fruitful research possibilities opens up into global marketplace cultures. In addition, new research methods including netnography and videography are proposed that are particularly suitable for analyzing translocal marketplace phenomena.
Supervising professor
Moisander, Johanna
Uusitalo, Liisa
Other note
  • Rokka, J.: Netnographic Inquiry and New Translocal Sites of the Social. International Journal of Consumer Studies, 34, (2010, forthcoming)
  • Rokka, J. & Moisander, J.: Environmental Dialogue in Online Communities: Negotiating Ecological Citizenship among Global Travellers. International Journal of Consumer Studies, 33, (2009) 199-205.
  • De Valck, K., Rokka, J., Hietanen, J.:Videography in Consumer Research: Visions for a Method on the Rise. Finanza Marketing e Produzione, 27 (2009) 81-100.
  • Rokka, J., Hietanen, J. & De Valck, K.: Brothers in Paint: Practice-Oriented Inquiry into a Tribal Marketplace Culture. Previous version of this paper was presented at Consumer Culture Theory Conference, June 11-14, Ross School of Business, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor MI, USA. (Unpublished manuscript).
  • Rokka, J., Hietanen, J. & De Valck, K.: Brothers in Paint: Practice-Oriented Inquiry into a Tribal Marketplace Culture. InAdvances in Consumer Research, 37, (2010). Campbell, M.C., Inman, J., Pieters, R. (eds.), (forthcoming). (Videography).