Close Knit: an investigation of the therapeutic consumption tribe

Thumbnail Image
MaireOSullivanPhDThesis.pdf(3.33 MB)
Full Text E-thesis
O'Sullivan, Máire R.
Journal Title
Journal ISSN
Volume Title
University College Cork
Published Version
Research Projects
Organizational Units
Journal Issue
This thesis interrogates the nature of and meanings behind consumption practices in a femaleled and -dominated consumption community, specifically Knitters. Informed by the data, the study focuses on the therapeutic nature of such a group. The literature on consumption communities has grown extensively in recent decades. However much of this literature has, in effect, focused on male-led and male-dominated communities. Furthermore, many of the major studies in the area of consumption communities have taken place in environments described as ‘hyper-masculine’ (Martin, Schouten and McAlexander, 2006). Rather than consider women in ‘a man’s world’ as in Martin et al. (2006), here female and feminine consumption is considered in a ‘feminised sphere’ (Jantzen, Ostergaard, and Vieira, 2006). The issue of whether female- or feminine-orientated communities of consumption manifest characteristics and orientations different to those of male-dominated communities had not previously been examined. This thesis gives the results of a longitudinal, ethnographic study, based on participant observation, depth interviews and netnographic research. The broad nature of the research question supports an emergent design approach with an iterative and continuous transition between analysis and data collection, gradually narrowing the scope of the work. The key finding of this study is that there exists a further type of therapeutic consumption, distinct from those described by compensatory consumption (Moisio 2007, Woodruffe 1997, Woodruffe-Burton 2001, Woodruffe-Burton and Elliot 2005) and the spiritual-therapeutic model (Moisio and Beruchashvili 2010). This has been termed therapeutic group consumption. Further, there exists a new typology of consumption community, with characteristics distinct from the Consumer Tribe (Cova and Cova, 2002), the Subculture of Consumption (Schouten and McAlexander, 1995), and the Brand Community (Muniz and O’ Guinn 2001); the name suggested for this community is the Therapeutic Consumption Tribe. While sharing similarities with the Consumer Tribe (Cova and Cova 2002), the Therapeutic Consumption Tribe is neither playful nor transient; rather, members display a deep socioemotional commitment to each other. Therapeutic well-being is a key benefit of the female-dominated contemporary craft community with some members clearly articulating this as their primary motivator for involvement in the community. Socioemotional support (or socioemotional helping) and tangible assistance, features of a therapeutic support group, emerge as key features of the community
Marketing , Consumer behaviour , Consumption communities , Knitting
O'Sullivan, M. R. 2018. Close Knit: an investigation of the therapeutic consumption tribe. PhD Thesis, University College Cork.
Link to publisher’s version