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Enacted voluntary simplicity – exploring the consequences of requesting consumers to intentionally consume less / Cathy McGouran; Andrea Prothero

European Journal of Marketing, Volume: 50, Issue: 1/2, Pages: 189 - 212

Swansea University Author: McGouran, Cathy

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Abstract

Purpose – This paper aims to explore the impact intentional non-consumption has on consumer practices, the resulting consumption experiences and meanings attached to the actions of participants, and what is learned from this relative to voluntary simplicity, most specifically when participants are a...

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Published in: European Journal of Marketing
ISSN: 0309-0566
Published: 2016
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URI: https://cronfa.swan.ac.uk/Record/cronfa22940
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Abstract: Purpose – This paper aims to explore the impact intentional non-consumption has on consumer practices, the resulting consumption experiences and meanings attached to the actions of participants, and what is learned from this relative to voluntary simplicity, most specifically when participants are asked to become voluntary simplifiers versus volunteering to do so.Design/methodology/approach – A phenomenological approach was employed utilising unstructured interviews and autoethnography. Data was analysed through the theoretical lens of voluntary simplicity within the contexts of contemporary Irish consumer culture and the collapse of the Celtic Tiger.Findings – The study highlights findings in four key areas: self-imposed parameters of intentional non-consumption and subsequent voluntary simplicity categories; motivations, practices and experiences of participants; the role intentional non-consumption plays relative to personal satisfaction, fulfilment and happiness; and how participant consumption practices reverted back to ‘normal’ once the study was complete. Research limitations/implications – This study focuses on an all-female group of participants; future research is warranted that explores the issue from a male perspective. Social implications – Findings are of particular interest to policy makers seeking to develop initiatives that reduce consumption practices and contribute to discussions that explore the role of consumption in modern society— in particular the wide-ranging debate on whether consumption leads to happiness and how consumers might be persuaded to consume in a more sustainable manner. Originality/value – This study adopts an innovative methodology that explores voluntary simplicity and contributes to an understanding of consumption culture by exploring what happens when consumers are asked to reduce their consumption and become voluntary simplifiers. An extension of Huneke’s definition of voluntary simplicity (VS) is offered, which recognises the role non-material consumption plays in consumption practices, and explores VS relative not only to individuals’ values and beliefs, as discussed in the literature, but also to their life-style activities and wider socio-cultural and institutional factors. Keywords: Voluntary Simplicity, Consumption Reduction, Consumption Practices, Autoethnography, Consumer Culture TheoryArticle Classification: Research Paper
Keywords: Voluntary Simplicity, Consumption Reduction, Consumption Practices, Autoethnography, Consumer Culture Theory
College: School of Management
Issue: 1/2
Start Page: 189
End Page: 212