Consumed by the real: A conceptual framework of abjective consumption and its freaky vicissitudes

Qualitative Market Research 1 (21):39-62 (2018)
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Purpose – This paper furnishes an inaugural reading of abjective consumption by drawing on Kristeva’s psychoanalytic theory of abjection within the wider terrain of consumer cultural research. It offers a conceptual framework that rests on three pillars, viz. irrationality, meaninglessness, dissolution of selfhood. Design/methodology/approach – Qualitative research design that adopts a documentary ethnographic approach, by drawing on a corpus of 50 documentary episodes from the TV series “My Strange Addiction” and “Freaky Eaters”. Findings – The findings from this analysis point to different orders of mediatized discourse that are simultaneously operative in different actors’ frames (e.g. moralizing, medical), in Goffman’s terms, yet none of which attains to address the phenomenon of abjective consumption to its fullblown extent. Research limitations/implications – Although some degree of bias is bound to be inherent in the data because of their pre-recorded status, they are particularly useful not in the least because this is a “difficult sample” in qualitative methodological terms. Practical implications – The multi-order dimensionalization of abjective consumption opens up new vistas to marketers in terms of adding novel dimensions to the message structure of their communicative programs, in line with the three Lacanian orders. Social implications – The adoption of a consumer psychoanalytic perspective allows significant others to fully dimensionalize the behavior of abjective consumption subjects, by becoming sensitive to other than symbolic aspects that are endemic in consumer behavior. Originality/value – This paper contributes to the extant consumer cultural research literature by furnishing the novel conceptual framework of abjective consumption, as a further elaboration of my consumer psychoanalytic approach to jouissance consumption, as well as by contrasting this interpretive frame vis-à-vis dominant discursive regimes.
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