Mapping out a Transformative Consumer Research Agenda for Gender & Intersectionalities

Problem Statement

More than a decade ago, Bristor and Fischer (1995, p. 526) noted that empirical research was needed to understand how gender intersected with other identity markers (e.g. gender and age, sexual orientation, class, body type, and/or physical ability) to result in “simultaneous oppressions.” Calls from the UN and practitioners likewise highlight the need for research that can help direct and measure interventions aimed at addressing the material and symbolic inequalities of marginalized groups.

However, although some consumer behavior scholars have identified and critiqued the sources of oppression, much of the gender and intersectionality literature remains neutral, centered on Western consumers, and imperatively, does not seek transformation. Peñaloza (1996) recognized more than a decade ago that the market, market offerings, ads and segmentations of consumers contribute in profound ways to distorting the representation of groups and to holding in place simultaneous oppressions (such as by reinforcing a class, race, and sexual-oriented consumer norm). Yet this is a phenomenon that occurs across a plethora of institutions that touch consumer lives through various modes of representation and discourse (e.g. academia and androcentric theories, religion and religious texts). The field of study is diverse, and we contend that consumer behavior scholars situated across a range of institutional structures can add substantive insights to address this significant gap. We need to move beyond the descriptive towards transformation.

The Goals of the Track

Through this session, we want to develop and cultivate relationships and research to advance a transformative orientation related to intersectional, gender-based injustices. The goal will be to create a structure that can help researchers and practitioners to understand and work towards resolving simultaneous injustices. As part of this process, will focus on:

  1. recognizing how consumers are affected by and navigate multiple and concurrent oppressions;
  2. revealing and critically assessing the sociocultural and institutional structures and power imbalances that hold in place these oppressions; and
  3. engaging with practitioners to understand how these forces and the complexities of multiple oppressions might be challenged and changed.

In working with a team of academics and practitioners, we will identify how six critical sociocultural and institutional forces—politics, media, economic empowerment, academia/education, family and religion—intersect with marketing, consumers, and consumption to contribute to simultaneous oppressions.

Track Structure

Pre-conference (Oct 2016 – June 2017):

In the pre-conference phase we will work on gathering and sharing information through Google docs. These documents will be used to help us prepare for the session and, importantly, to build towards ongoing and future research projects. These include:

  • An annotated, transdisciplinary bibliography around major intersectionalities (gender & race; gender & poverty; gender & sexual orientation; gender & disabilities; gender & multiple intersectionalities)
  • Group member’s bios, specializations, and existing research findings and trends that link to intersectional oppressions so that we might reveal areas of focus and overlap for future research/publications
  • A list of grant applications to which we can apply to fund future research

We will also hold a number of Skype sessions to address administrative issues, such as securing and engaging with practitioners that can represent the different areas where institutional change is critical – politics, media, economics empowerment initiatives, academia/education, family & religion. These administrative sessions are as follows:

  • Beginning of October 2016 – confirm practitioners to be invited
  • Jan 15th 2017 – obtain background info on confirmed practitioners (e.g. bios, applicable research, examples of what they use for measurements or evidence of progress in resolving injustices).
  • Mar 15th 2017 – send out info sheet/brochure to academics & practitioners to familiarize everyone with the research of other group members
  • June 1st 2017 – one-on-one team member engagement with a practitioner to solicit practitioner’s thoughts, envisioned contributions/benefits/gains. Feedback findings to the group through email.

Conference (June 18-20, 2017):

June 18th (mid afternoon/night)

The night before the conference begins, we will hold an informal dinner session. The conversation will be used to map out different research projects with a view to start brainstorming what can we do in the next two years

June 19th (morning)

The first session will be with practitioners, focused on learning what their current approaches, challenges, successes, etc. are to tackling simultaneous oppressions, recognizing unintended consequences, and mapping out whether sufficient commonalities exist that could allow for a baseline approach to researching or addressing intersectional injustices.

June 19th (afternoon)

The second session will explore potential research gaps that could be addressed, reflecting on where the academic literature is and what would fit with what practitioners need

June 20th (morning)

The final session will be with academics and practitioners interested in publications. This session will be a brainstorming session for potential articles & identification of lead authors, including the article for the special issue of Journal of Business Research.

Post-Conference (June 2017-June 2019):

Post-conference follow-up with practitioners (June 2017)

As part of the synthesis of our session notes, we will send practitioners an overview of the proposed research, articles, and possible ‘think pieces’ to gain their feedback and to identify collaborative opportunities

Continued publications & research

Leveraging the TCR experience, we anticipate building a pipeline of future work, including publications (academic articles and ‘think pieces’), grant applications and research. Appropriate Google docs and Skype meetings will facilitate this process. The goal will be to construct a proactive approach to applying for grants that fit with joint-research agendas and timelines.


Laurel Steinfield

Bentley University

Catherine Coleman

Texas Christian University

Linda Tuncay Zayer

 Loyola University Chicago


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