Theorizing with Poetry: An Exercise in Transmutability

Okay, this one is long overdue. In the meantime, as those of you who are following me on Facebook or through Twitter probably already know, I’ve done a bit of air travel and teaching around the world as part of my sabbatical. It’s been awesome fun, hard work, and I’ve enjoyed every single second of it. But it hasn’t left much time for blogging, which is unfortunate.

The strange and wonderful thing is that I have checked the number of people who have come to visit and read this site and guess what? They are increasing. Steadily on the rise. Growing at a good clip.

That’s beautiful. Thank you for being faithful while I’ve been super-occupied.

I’ve got some great stuff coming up for you.

Do you remember in the last posting I was talking about research that is “transmutable,” that translates qualitative research into testable proposition and hypotheses. Now, this is the strong form of the argument, I think. Another assertion might just say that qualitative researchers should come to the table fully prepared to discuss why other researchers should care about their findings, and how those findings ramify into the wider consumer research and other communities. I think that all researchers should be prepared to do this.

I actually don’t think testable hypotheses and propositions are really the cat’s meow, or the pinnacle of the human quest for knowledge. But they are a communications device and for the sake of argument let’s say we see what happen when we try this.

Now, last time I suggested we take a very emotive form of consumer research representation and see what might happen if we were to transmute it into those testable propositions. It’s kind of a weird idea, but let’s try it anyway.

The poem I’m going to offer up was one that I wrote for the CCT Conference held in Boston this year. I couldn’t be at the poetry session in person and so I recorded this poem as an mp3 file and gave it to the chairs of the session. Unfortunately, they couldn’t get it to play. So this is the first time this poem has appeared anywhere, and also the first time that my spoken word version of it is being shared.

Here is stigmatic enterprise-spoken word, the spoken word performed version of the poem. I was working with a pretty challenging microphone, so please excuse the sound quality if it’s not great. I did have some fun with it. Hope you enjoy it too.

Now, here is the written version of the poem:

Stigmatic Enterprise    

by Robert V. Kozinets


Channel Me/ channel my

Desires/ flotation

Devices in a sea

Of mes, of mys, of Other

Needs and faces and wants to


Get into it

Get over it


Get in

Get out


Get on it

Get it


On channels/ in channels/from channels/ I channel it

Raw unfeeling feeling: I

Need it NOW


You like it you like that

I like it

the way I like it


But fade shades possible

and newness sharing doubts


I want your desire


a pure something/



this moment


my disappointed heart





Okay, so that’s the poem. What it actually signifies in this form is pretty open to interpretation, but for the sake of this exercise, I’ll provide the interpretation for you.

In the follow-up blog entry, we’ll finish the exercise by going through it stanza by stanza, and in the course of this interpretation I think we get a clearer sense of what the poem is saying that might lead to something that could feed into the research of other scholars about consumer culture, rather than stop completely at being an act of self-expression.

In the meantime, it would be sort of cool if you would try your own hand at pulling a few hypotheses and propositions from this poem. Then compare and see how similar or different they are from the ones that I drawn from it when I post my next blog entry. Go on, give it a try, and feel free to comment or write me with what you discovered.

I think tomorrow I’ll go right into my overview of the ACR Conference this year, and then we’ll pick up this discussion in a couple of days. 


  1. rpwagner October 27, 2008
  2. Kiwi Anchy October 28, 2008
  3. Kiwi Anchy October 28, 2008
  4. Robert Kozinets October 29, 2008
  5. Daiane October 29, 2008

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