Deconstructing consumer discipline How self-management is experienced in the marketplace

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Cronin, James Martin
McCarthy, Mary
Delaney, Mary
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Purpose - The purpose of this paper is to build an understanding of what we term "consumer discipline" by unpacking the practices and strategies by which people manage and exert control over what they consume. This is facilitated by looking at the context of food, an everyday necessity imbued with sizeable importance in terms of its impact on personal well-being, and how it is experienced by individuals who must manage the constraints of a chronic illness. Design/methodology/approach - Drawing on the Foucauldian concept of governmentality and theories surrounding the social facilitation of self-management, this paper analyses interviews with 17 consumers diagnosed with diabetes or coronary heart disease. Findings - By exploring how the chronically ill generate different strategies in managing what they eat and how they think about it, this paper outlines four analytical areas to continue the discussion of how consumption is disciplined and its conceptualisation in marketing and health-related research: "the Individual", "the Other", "the Market" and "the Object". Practical implications - The results signal to policymakers the aspects of health promotion that can be enhanced to improve self-management amongst consumers in the pursuit of well-being. Originality/value - This paper makes two contributions: it conceptualises consumer discipline as a practice that involves self-control but also comprises the capabilities to self-manage one's identity and relationships through leveraging personal and social strategies across various contexts; and it identifies macro influences such as the market as negotiable powers that can be contested or resisted to help assist in one's self-management.
Consumption , Foucault , Discipline , Governmentality , Health , Food , Chronic illness , Expert patient , Health , Consumption , Resistance , Discourses , Identity , Behavior , Body , Life
Cronin, J. M., McCarthy, M. and Delaney, M. (2015) 'Deconstructing consumer discipline', European Journal of Marketing, 49(11/12), pp. 1902-1922. doi: 10.1108/EJM-06-2014-0404