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Marketplace Sentiments

Ahir Gopaldas

Journal of Consumer Research, 2014, vol. 41, issue 4, 995 - 1014

Abstract: From outrage at corporations to excitement about innovations, marketplace sentiments are powerful forces in consumer culture that transform markets. This article develops a preliminary theory of marketplace sentiments. Defined as collectively shared emotional dispositions, sentiments can be grouped into three function-based categories: contempt for villains, concern for victims, and celebration of heroes. Marketplace actors such as activists, brands, and consumers have a variety of motives and methods for producing and reproducing sentiments. Activists plant, amplify, and hyper-perform sentiments to recruit consumers and discipline institutions. Brands carefully select, calibrate, and broadcast sentiments to entertain consumers and promote products. Consumers learn, experience, and communicate sentiments to commune and individuate in society. The emergent theory of marketplace sentiments (1) advances a sociocultural perspective on consumer emotion, (2) elevates the theoretical significance of emotional observations in cultural studies, (3) offers a sentiment-based understanding of the power of ideology, (4) indicates how activist sentiments can paradoxically benefit from brand co-optation, and (5) calls for human input in big data sentiment analysis. More broadly, the article proposes that cultures are systems of discourses, sentiments, and practices wherein discourses legitimize sentiments and practices, sentiments energize discourses and practices, and practices materialize discourses and sentiments.

Date: 2014
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