Category Archives: Consumer Culture Theory

Is Star Trek Better Than Star Wars? Is J. J. Abrams The Saviour?

Yoda shows disrespect to Star Trek

Yoda shows disrespect to Star Trek

In this month’s GQ magazine (May 2013 issue, p. 68 in my print copy) John Ritter has an article about J. J. Abrams, the Lost creator-director whose speciality has becoming reviving old franchises like Mission Impossible and Star Trek. About Star Trek, he opines–with an opiate reference–in relation to J.J. taking on the challenges of building the new Star Wars Disney franchise:

  • “The idea that the same man can mainline both Gene Roddenberry and the Force is mildly alarming. Think of what opposite Star Trek and Star Wars are. We’ve been defined since childhood by which we prefer: rationality vs. mysticism, robust and morally complex characters vs. good-and-evil archetypes. A guy who can reunite the two halves of the Great Sci-Fi Schism shouldn’t be making movies, folks–he should be our envoy to the Middle East.”

This is an incredibly rich paragraph. A veritable treasure trove.

Let me first offer my opinion on whether Star Trek and Star Wars are actually opposites or, more accurately, oppositional poles. Although I know many fans will choose one franchise over another, or that fans often say that they are “Star Trek people” or “Star Wars people” like they say they are cat people or dog people, I also know that there are many people who, like me, have worshiped at the altars dedicated to both Spock and Yoda since they were children (and yes, I am also both a cat person and a dog person—jeez, I wonder if there is a correlation).

But I think the dichotomy that Ritter sets up in this paragraph is incorrect, particularly on the Star Trek side. Star Trek is “rationality” devoid of “mysticism”. Um, not so fast. Have you seen what’s inside Mr. Spock? Like, telepathy and mind control. How many times has a false god been mistaken for the real thing: Apollo, Vaal, Q, Trelane, the Metrons, and on and on?

As numerous authors have written (for three strong examples, see Porter, Jennifer E. and Darcee L. McLaren (1999), ed., Star Trek and Sacred Ground: Explorations of Star Trek, Religion, and American Culture, Albany, NY: SUNY Press; Wagner, Jon and Jan Lundeen (1998), Deep Space and Sacred Time: Star Trek in the American Mythos, Westport, CN: Praeger; Jindra, Michael (1994), “Star Trek fandom as a religious phenomenon,” Sociology of Religion, 55 (Spring), 27-51), Star Trek in all of its vainglorious iterations is chock-full of mysticism and spirituality. Many, many episodes in the original series could, for example, be seen as symbolizing humanity’s ongoing quest for God, or gods, and an overturning or ambivalence towards this seemingly inescapable yearning in modern times. And as Wagner and Lundeen’s book demonstrates, Star Trek has plenty to do with mythology and archetype. As has any great story.

Which franchise do you think Ritter favors? My bet is that he sees himself more as a rational type than a mystic, and prefers “morally complex” characters to “archetypes” (or is that fictional stereotypes?).

But comparing fan debates in the fictional space to long-standing territorial and religious conflicts in the Middle East is particularly revealing. The fact that a writer can devise and a publication can publish such comparisons can only point to some deep resonance of belief, belonging and identity that comes from fan identity, particularly this, one of the core fan identities of our time.

J.J. Abrams is a master director who plays with mysticism and ambivalence to science. Like creator Chris Carter of The X-Files, his works often peer into the (small v and plural) existential voids, they look at the holes and gaps in technoscientific rationality and human society (even its sciencefictional reflection) and find there the ever-unfulfilled need for certainly and belief, and even spirituality and mysticism.

His works vividly portray this ambivalence and fear and hope and desire, which burns at the very heart of our society. And that is exactly why he is such a good choice to continue to tell these precious modern myths which so many of us hold so dear.

Marketing Poetics: Video, Print, and Live in Oxford

Those of you who have been following this blog for a while know that I have written several times in the past about the value of alternative forms of representation of marketing knowledge and consumer research insights. One of the forms of representation in which I have been interested for a long time is poetry. And, for some wonderful reasons, I’ve found my poetic muse lately and have been inspired to write a lot of poetry. Much of which I hope to share with you in various forms and fora.

In this past blog entry, I presented a poem called “Stigmatic Enterprise” and speculated about whether a poem could be translated, or “transmuted” meaningfully into positive knowledge assertion in the form of propositions or even hypotheses.  Here, I wrote about a memorable poetry reading at the 2010 Consumer Culture Theory conference, in which I presented the poem “Marketing Life 101″ to the dubstep accompaniment of DJ Risto Roman.

Well, this year the Consumer Culture Theory conference is back and it is better than ever. August the 16th to the 19th in Oxford England, located in the famous and historic Oxford University. And the poetry session this year promises to be one of the best ever. To honor and promote the event, I am sharing this wonderful poster that promotes the event (I have a matching one hanging in the Schulich offices, and another one on my office door). The themes, as you can plainly see, is “Clarence Clobbers Tenderly.” And really, Gentle Readers, is there a better way to clobber, if you really, really need to clobber, than tenderly?

Clarence Clobbers CCT Consumer Conference Theory Poetry Poetics boxing Oxford 2012

The two other things I will offer and mention are both related to the intriguing, controversial, and I believe stimulating idea that poetry can be a form of research. This discussion has been occuring for a while in the social sciences, particularly in sociology.

In our own field of consumer and marketing research, I’d say that the three most prominent and interesting scholars in this area are John Sherry, John Schouten, and Roel Wijland. The two Johns wrote a very important article on the topic that was published in the field-leading Journal of Consumer Research in 2002. I wrote about and cited that article quite extensively in this blog entry on “iphone Haiku and the poetics of scientific representation.”

In the last several year, Roel Wijland has become an extremely importanr voice and agent provacateur in this area. A former advertising executive with a definite poetic gift, his dissertation was a wry, brilliant, and courageous piece of work that combined poetry with marketing history and analysis. Since doing that important work, he has spearheaded and organized bringing poetry into the field (alongside John Sherry, as you can see in the poster).

Roel approaches the poetic enterprise with serious intent, but a good dose of humor and fun. He is located at Otago University in Dunedin, New Zealand. As a poetry published, he has made up an invented press called the University of St. Bathans Press, which has done a very nice job of publishing all of the CCT conference poems.However,  St Bathans is the village in New Zealand where he live. It has no university. And, actually, it has a population of only 5 people!

If you are interested in consumer, marketing, and brand related poetry, I highly recommend you check out Roel’s web-site,

desert pilgrim videography burning man kozinets poemAnd at the risk of making this a really long blog post, I want to close by saying that the styles and approaches of poetry can be extremely diverse. Ever since 1998, when I wrote and performed the Burning Man research poem “Desert Pilgrim” (available through the link on YouTube), I have been interested in experimenting with poetry that contained actual consumer data within it (I was inspired by sociologist Laurel Richardson‘s work which did this). I also attach the printed 2002 version of the poem Desert Pilgrim which was printed in Consumption, Marketing, and Culture with a number of B&W photographs. You might want to read the poem first, and then hear it performed as it was originally intended, spoken voice over video.  desert pilgrim burning man kozinets poem poetry poetics

Last year, Stephen Gould, the master of introspection asked me to contribute something to a special issue of the Journal of Business Research. I immediately wanted to write an introspective research poem. That poem was published last year, titled “me/my research/avatar.”

  • Kozinets, Robert V. (2012), “me/my research/avatar Journal of Business Research, 65 (April), 478-482.

That poem takes a “behind-the-scenes” look that the project of research ethnography, and uses fieldnotes, published cites, reflections and several unpublished interview questions (i.e., the questions I asked people in interviews, which are usually not published because we only publish their answers; in those questions, I chose ones which were particularly self-revealing) as the grist for my introspective poetic mill. And along the way, I invented a sort of research avatar, a rather shady and cynical being, who also has moments of stunning insight, called “Dark Freddy” (don’t ask me where I got that name, as I have no idea).

The poem from Consumption, Markets, and Culture is available if you click the citation here:

  • Kozinets, Robert V. (2002), “Desert PilgrimConsumption, Markets and Culture, 5 (September), 171-186.

I hope you enjoy the many poems and thoughts about the poetics of consumer research representation available in this post. And I hope to see some of you at the poetry reading in Oxford on the night of August 17, 2012.

Journal of Marketing Appointment Announcement

jm_cover.jpgThis blog is getting some “red hot” editorial news about the State of Marketing Scholarship these days. My last post broke the news about the new editorial team at the Journal of Consumer Research (“JCR”).

And here is a very fresh one about the #1 Journal in the Marketing field.

As many of you are aware Gary Frazier is the editor elect of the Journal of Marketing (or “JM”) and will be taking over in July of 2011 from Ajay Kohli. For a while, Ajay, Gary, and Bob Leone have acted as co-editors of the journal. As with JCR, the manuscripts flows in the main journals in our field have been increasing dramatically, necessitating some editorial action to share the workload.

Gary has decided to change the structure of the Journal of Marketing to one that includes Associate Editors (or “AEs”). I think this is a very smart move. AEs at JM will have considerable latitude to make recommendations, but the final decision will always lie with the Editor-in-Chief, that is, Gary. Gary has appointed 16 AEs, some truly excellent people, and I believe he is looking for a couple more.

marketing_journals_411×211.jpgGary has asked me to be an Associate Editor of JM for his term and I have happily accepted. Thank you for the vote of confidence, Gary.

What this means, I believe, is that the Journal of Marketing is institutionalizing a role and a place for Consumer Culture Theory, cultural, or “qualitative” approaches to practical marketing issues in the field. This is big news. It is something that many of us in the CCT field have been working towards for many years. More top tier options for our publications is important to continuing the institutionalization of CCT work as an important and necessary (albeit minority) component of all Marketing Scholarship, Marketing Education, and Marketing Departments.

At the #1 journal in the Marketing field, we now have, perhaps more than ever before, the promise of a real presence and solidified representation at the top of the field.

I think that a look at the past 7 years of cultural work in JM will show that CCT work is getting more and more applied, and offering increasingly powerful pragmatic insights to the marketing industry.

The move is also presenting  a natural place for all types of social media and social media marketing research. One of my personal goals is to raise the quality and profile of research on social media and social media marketing research.

Officially, these will be the areas of the Journal of Marketing that I will have Associate Editor authority over:

Primary (substantive) content area

Internet and social media marketing

Secondary content areas

  1. Word-of-mouth marketing;
  2. entertainment marketing;
  3. brand and product management;
  4. retailing


  • Qualitative/ethnographic (e.g., discourse analysis, semiotics, phenomenological interviews, metaphor analysis),
  • Other methodological orientations as necessary (I am trained and versed in a variety of different methods)

If you do social media research using qualitative methods, you can pretty much guess who is going to be shepherding your work though JM.

So starting in July I will be looking forward to seeing all your best managerially-oriented work sent to us at the Journal of Marketing. I will do my very best to make sure it gets treated fairly or even better, and to publish the best work to keep our field of Marketing moving steadily forward.

JCR Gets a New Editor–Three New Editors, To Be Exact

I have been on the JCR Policy Board for about a year, representing the American Anthropological Association.This has been my first time going through the process of electing a new Editor, or Editorial Team.

In this case, I want to say that we had two team running for the Editorship and both teams were really outstanding. It was extremely difficult to choose one team as better than the other. What I can say is that I am very happy with this choice. I think the new editors will do an extremely good job, be very fair, very devoted, and very enthusiastic. If you like the way JCR is running right now, I think you are going to be pleased with the way it will continue running.

Here is the full official announcement going over the communications transom right now. I’ve been authorized to spread the word, so here goes…

“The Journal of Consumer Research Policy Board is pleased to announce that Mary Frances Luce, Ann L. McGill, and Laura Peracchio have been named coeditor-designates of the Journal of Consumer Research.  The new team, whose three-year term begins July 1, 2011, replaces John Deighton, who has served as editor-in-chief since July 2005.   We gratefully acknowledge John’s service, as well as his team of editors for the last three years-Deborah MacInnis, Ann McGill, and Baba Shiv.

Mary Frances Luce is the Thomas A. Finch Jr. Professor of Marketing at The Fuqua School of Business at Duke University and Associate Dean for Faculty Affairs.  Professor Luce’s expertise is in consumer behavior, medical decision-making, and the effects of negative emotion on decision behavior. Her teaching interests center on health care marketing.  Luce received her Ph.D. in Business Administration from Duke University and has held previous appointments at the Wharton School of Business.  Luce’s research has appeared in such publications as Journal of Consumer Research, Health Psychology, Management Science, and Marketing Science.  She also co-authored Emotional Decisions:  Tradeoff Difficulty and Coping in Consumer Choice. In 2003, she was Co-Chair of the Association for Consumer Research Conference, and she currently serves as an associate editor of the Journal of Consumer Research.  She has received research grants from the National Science Foundation and the Marketing Science Institute.

Ann L. McGill is the Sears Roebuck Professor of General Management, Marketing, and Behavior Science at the Booth School of Business, University of Chicago.   Professor McGill’s research focus is consumer and manager decision making, with special emphasis on causal reasoning, consumer evaluations of products and services consumed alone or with others, the influence of freedom of choice on outcome satisfaction, and product and brand anthropomorphism.  McGill has held teaching positions at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management and New York University.   Besides teaching and advising several PhD candidates, McGill is an editor of the Journal of Consumer Research and in 2008, she was Co-Chair of the Association for Consumer Research Conference.  McGill won the 2005 McKinsey Award for Excellence in Teaching at the University of Chicago.   She received a BBA with high distinction from the University of Michigan, and an MBA and a PhD from Chicago Booth.

Laura Peracchio is Professor of Marketing at the University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee. Professor Peracchio received her Ph.D. from Northwestern University and a dual BA and BSE from the Wharton School and the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of Pennsylvania.  Peracchio’s areas of research interest are focused on consumer information processing including food and nutrition issues, visual persuasion, and language and culture. Her work has appeared in the Journal of Consumer Research, Journal of Marketing Research, Journal of Consumer Psychology, Journal of Public Policy and Marketing, and Journal of Advertising. Peracchio is an Associate Editor of the Journal of Consumer Research and the Journal of Consumer Psychology and has served as President of the Society for Consumer Psychology. She was awarded the Society for Consumer Psychology’s Inaugural Distinguished Service Award and research awards from the American Marketing Association, the Marketing Science Institute, and the Journal of Consumer Research. Peracchio’s teaching focuses on nonprofit marketing, social and public policy issues, and consumer behavior.

The Policy Board was very impressed with the proposal submitted by Professors Luce, McGill, and Peracchio.  They are all highly respected scholars and long-time contributors to JCR and to the consumer research community more broadly.  Ann is currently an editor of JCR, and all three have served as area-editors and members of the JCR editorial review board.  The team brings great energy to the editorial position, and under their direction we expect to see JCR’s influence broaden and strengthen among researchers interested in all aspects of consumption behavior.  In addition, the team has excellent ideas for promoting interdisciplinary research within JCR.   The field of consumer research will continue to develop in important ways under this team’s scholarly leadership.

The JCR Policy Board is comprised of representatives of eleven organizations.  Current members of the Policy Board are Itamar Simonson (American Marketing Association), Rob Kozinets (American Anthropological Association), Linda L. Price (American Association of Family and Consumer Sciences), Barbara Bickart (American Association for Public Opinion Research), Juliet Schor (American Sociological Association), Michel Wedel (American Statistical Association), John Lynch (Association for Consumer Research), Leigh McAlister (INFORMS), Ronald Faber (International Communication Association), Durairaj Maheswaran (Society for Consumer Psychology), and Norbert Schwarz (Society for Personality and Social Psychology).




Social Media Changes Everything: An Open Letter to President Obama about Wikileaks

Wikileaks Logo interpreted by KozinetsDear President Obama:

It was really nice when social media was your special friend, wasn’t it? When you had your Facebook page and everyone lauded it, you were the social media President, the social media guy. People saidf you had “cracked the code” on using social media for politics, people wrote books and reports about how you had won the Presidency by “getting” social media when very few people and companies go it, and everything was great.

But now social media is not your special friend any more, is it?

As the major media have been ceaselessly reporting, “a cache of a quarter-million confidential American diplomatic cables, most of them from the past three years, provides an unprecedented look at back-room bargaining by embassies around the world, brutally candid views of foreign leaders and frank assessments of nuclear and terrorist threats” (NY Times, Nov 28, Shane and Lehren article).

Social media changes everything.

Social media isn’t just about fan pages, Mr. President. It isn’t just about organizing your supporters. It most certainly isn’t like chain mail, that can just “amplify” a social (“Change”) or campaign (“Vote”) message. Not in the big picture analysis. It isn’t just about marketing. Not really. Where you did get it right, President Obama, and where there is still lots of hope, I believe, is that the key to your campaign’s use of social media-although it has disappointingly dropped off in your years in the Oval Office-is that it was always about Empowerment.

Edelman wrote a nice report about the Obama campaign’s use of social media that hammered home how it used social media to empower its supporters. Here are its principles:

  1. Laddering support through tiers of engagement
  2. Empowering super users
  3. Providing source materials for user-generated content
  4. Going where the people are
  5. Using tools people are familiar with
  6. Ensuring that people can find your content
  7. Mobilizing supporters through mobile devices
  8. Harnessing analytics to constantly improve engagement activities
  9. Building the online operation to scale

Those are good solid marketing lessons, good social media marketing lessons, too. But here’s a new lesson for the books, Mr. President: Empowerment cuts both ways. Wikileaks is doing this, too. And here is another one: social media changes everything.

wikileaks-graphics_1084331a.jpgWhat I mean is that, for you, and for others in power like corporate executives and heads of nonprofit companies, and leaders of all shapes and sizes, social media is like someone coming and peeling a wall from your house and one from your office, replacing them with two panes of glass, setting up deckchairs on your lawn, and inviting everyone to come take turns watching you. The same ability to get into people’s living rooms means they are peering into your living room, too.

You want “Transparency”? In the social media world, you’ve got it. “Control of the message”? Well, that’s a whole other thing.

Here is the dilemma. What Wikileaks did and keeps doing is a major headache and a major embarrassment. You, Hilary, and your State Department staff must be apologizing like jostled Canadians at this point. Maybe it is more than a headache. Almost certainly the site is breaking some laws by “publishing” such private governmental information. Should it be shut down? Crushed like Napster or Pirate Bay (sorry).

wikileaks_censored.gifI don’t think so. What the major press has also picked up is that this gargantuan leak is also an incredible opportunity for anyone to take a peek, as deep a peek as they like, into the way American diplomacy is done. It is a window thrown open onto something that was previously backdoor. And in a real democracy, that is incredibly value, because it spurs examination, self-examination, and real “Change” (remember that word, Mr. President? It used to be your friend, too).

According to Wikileaks founder, Julian Assange, the site will release a treasure trove of documents early next year that will show a big US bank engaging in “flagrant violations” and “unethical practices” and trigger all sorts of regulatory examination. And as the finance industry goes, it is no doubt that other industries will follow. A parade of companies will follow, their leaders hung out to dry, naked and vulnerable with their expletives undeleted, their decision-making  and moral stances fully exposed (anyone remember the Ford Pinto? How about the Toyota scandal?)

Social media changes business in more ways that marketing. It is a painful transition. It is going to be wrenching. We are just feeling the first death thrashes of the old, secretive system. But in the long run, truth and consistency are good things.

obama_thinks.jpgMr. President, please be careful as you consider the question of whether to shut Wikileaks down, or limit its ability to reveal.

Let’s be honest. It isn’t like this is the first time you have tried to control social media, President Obama. Most people have already forgotten how you got into a public argument with Joe Anthony, an early supporter of you. Mr. Anthony was advanced enough in social media to start a MySpace page with your name on it, to support your bid to become a candidate for President, before you did. He gathered 130,000 friends for you. You then went straight to the authorities at MySpace and had them turn the page over to your campaign so you could take control of it. Oops. No thank you, no apology, just “that’s mine-I control that.”

 That old school, heavy handed technique did not work. The followers rebelled. It got nasty. It took a real, personal apology and a lot of effort to get people back and on board.

You learned your lesson that time. Please remember it this time. Let the secrets keep flowing until you learn how to manage them. Let the information get out until frontstage and backstage are consistent. Let the people know how you really govern, not just how you say you govern. Please don’t just be a politician. It is clearly not what the people want from you. Learn from the mistakes to lead with inspiring integrity and truly empower.

And let social media change everything.


Promoting a New Research Method: Netnography Considered (Part 1)

This is true. On March 26 of last year, a woman I had never heard of before named Maria Xenitidou, or just “Maria X” contacted me. She is a British post-doc, a Ph.D., and so I feel justified in calling her “Professor X”. Or perhaps, since the X-Men are Legend, “The Young, Female Professor X.”

Not Maria XSo, Maria, the Young, Female, Professor X, contacted me out of the blue with an email. She began by telling me that she had “recently undertaken a project with colleagues at the University of Surrey in which we are trying to locate innovations in social science research methods.” Her purpose? They were interested in identifying innovative research practices in the social sciences outside the UK, in other words, research practices that had not  yet filtered through to typical research methods courses. And, the reason she was contacting me was that my work “had been identified as involving innovative research practices especially with reference to netnography.”

That was pretty exciting. A completely non-marketing, non-consumer research group of scholars was interested in my work. These were sociologists and cultural scholars for the most part.

I wrote Maria back. We talked. We interviewed (on Skype of course). And on the basis of the material I sent her and our interview, she wrote up a very interesting document about innovative research practices that included netnography. The document was published. And then she invited me to a Research Methods Festival in Oxford at the University of Oxford on July 5th. In particular, to a smaller Workshop at the beginning of the Festival called “The Process of Methodological Innovation Workshop.”

The Festival was timed to directly follow EACR. By “coincidence.” Or, perhaps, if you are a Jungian, by synchronicity. That amazing synchronicity.

So of course, thinking that I would already be in England, and that I’d never been to Oxford before, I said yes. And I am very glad I did.Here is the University of Oxford

The session she assigned me to was called “Promulgating New Methods” and my mission (PhD students and post-docs like to hand professors missions, by the way) was to offer ideas and experiences about “Concentrated Activity, Networks and Diffusion Mechanisms of Methodological Innovations.”

That sounded heavy. Weighty. Meaty. I like heavy.

So I put on my Thinking Hat and started to ponder what I had learned in 15 years developing, tooling-up, and blabbing about this new methodological approach of netnography. What I came up with, and what I presented, was a way of thinking about what I do, about my approach to scholarship that I wanted to share with you here in blogglyand. But first, we continue the Oxford thing. I had to write something to present.

 In one of those annoyingly parenthetical postmodern fragments of titling, I named the presentation: “Netnography: Prom/ot(ulgat)ing a New Method.” The idea was that Promulgation, Professor X’s mandate to presenters in my slot, is always also Promotion. Science is always marketing.

Gratuitous Wisconsin Badgers Shot…That observation of course must be credited to J. Paul Peter (my department Chair when I was at the University of Wisconsin) and Jerry Olson, who wrote a wonderful, now-classic article in the Fall of 1983, during the dark depths of Marketing’s Crisis of Legitimacy. Under apparent attack from the challenge of qualitative methods, and like many of the academic business fields that were undergoing scientific rationalization in the face of the Gordon-Howell Report and the Pierson Reports, the field of Marketing “Science” was defending its legitimacy and honor by insisting that it was, indeed, as scientific as any other field, thank you very much. While so many people were writing and debating about whether Marketing was a Science, Peter and Olson came around the back door with a big rubber Foucaldian hammer and bonked those “positivist/empiricist” dumbbells on the head, arguing very convincingly that we were asking the wrong question.

It is not “Is Marketing a Science?” that is the interesting question, their 1983 article in the Journal of Marketing asserted. It is “Is Science Marketing?” And of course, it was and it is.

This inversion is what makes that article so interesting and, indeed, timeless. They showed how scientists regularly:

  • use marketing strategy to target their theories and their work (where will this fit?),
  • use positioning to show differentiation from extant scholarship (how is this new?),
  • and employ marketing mix variables (the good old 4 Ps of product, place, price, and promotions) to effectively “sell” their theoretical innovations and their new view of the world (how do we get people to read and cite this work?).

So it was drawing upon this perspective that I decided to think about how I had Promoted the approach of netnography on an unsuspecting and obstinately ambivalent world over the last 15 years. (I didn’t need to recap Peter and Olson very much, since it is 2010 and of course no one believe that science is “the truth” anymore, everyone knows it is just a language game and a social construction. Right? Um, not.)

Waves that Overlap…like Metaphors that SinkAfter a brief introduction to the method, I introduced the four waves or strategies that I used. They overlap and still overlap. They are not exclusive discrete steps. They are not a how-to. They are merely observations collected and organized for the format of the talk about how I can in retrospect think about sharing and diffusing a new qualitative approach.

The first wave, perhaps the most obvious one, I called “Legitimation Through Academia.” I will provide the details on that Wave in the next blog posting, as the context stuff goes into full swing.

How do you promote and promulgate a new research method? In four fuzzy sets of initiatives or four overlapping waves, as we will see. And these sets will set the stage for me to make some new declarations for this blog, and open the door to some new envisioning of what the heck it is that I am trying to do.

Thanks, at least in part, to the Mysterious Young Female Professor X.


Upcoming Social Media Ph.D. Course in Bergen, Norway–August 23-27, 2010

social-media.jpgI just got back from a Europe and have some things to recap and share with you about some interesting experiences there. But first I wanted to share some exciting news about a course on Social Media Marketing and Marketing Research that I will be teaching/facilitating in beautiful Bergen, Norway, at the NHH School, next month.

The course will run from Monday, August 23 to Friday, August 27. It a one week intensive, and students should expect to put in some long days, as there will be full days of discussion and instruction followed by full evenings of research homework. Expect to be fully immersed in social media theory, practice, and action.

The course is a combination of readings, intense discussion, and hands-on research research experience. It it aimed at beginners and those with intermediate abilities and interests.  The goal is to have a dedicated and fully up-to-date Ph.D. course on these important matters for students from around the world to take.

nhh_logo.jpgIngeborg Kleppe at NHH initiated the course, and the school has been extremely generous in that they are providing the course for free to interested Ph.D. students. Students will be required to bring their own laptop computers to work on. And, believe me, they will be using them a lot. This is a course about doing netnography, not just talking about it.

The catch is that to provide the optimal experience we are limiting enrollment to 15 students. We currently have about 20, I believe, so there are 5 slots currently available.

Interested Ph.D. students should write to Ingeborg Kleppe as soon as possible. Her email is

Instructors, students, and others might be interested in the syllabus for the course, so I include it here in its entirety (although please note that there will likely be updates and substitutions in the actual course as this material is part of a rapidly growing and rapidly changing body of work).

Course title: Social Media Marketing– Web 2.0

Program of study:PhD

Course responsible Professor Robert Kozinets, Schulich School of Business, York University, Toronto

Associate professor Ingeborg Astrid Kleppe, NHH

Semester Fall 2010 Teaching language English

Objective/ course outline

Online communities, social networking sites, blogging, and other interactive uses of information technology are changing the way people communicate and understand their world. Social media is changing society, and changing the nature of marketing.

An understanding of online communities and online WOM are critical for the marketers of today and tomorrow, who are trying to be heard in a mediascape cluttered with advertisements and drenched in consumer distrust. Companies are trying to discover how to speak to consumers in a way that is more authentic, and social media marketing are being tried as an alternative to traditional marketing tactics. But how should it best be used? What are the rules for success? It’s all brand new and uncertain.

The purpose of this course is to introduce PhD students to research in social media marketing and social media marketing research. In several classroom discussions led by the professor, students will learn about the theories and practices that inform this new set of marketing techniques, and will study actual and ongoing social media marketing campaigns.

Specific topics include (subject to adaptation and revision):

  • Terminology issues: distinguishing the different types of social media and social media marketing campaigns
  • Similarities and differences between new and traditional media, and between organic and amplified WOM
  • Overview of useful theories about social media and word-of-mouth
  • How networks of social influence work
  • Marketing Metrics: Tracking online and offline word-of-mouth and influence
  • Building social media marketing into strategy and tactics
  • Ethical aspects and codes of the industry


We will be using a reading package and online materials to conduct a ‘real-time’ learning experience that blends theory and practice and talk and action, as well as school and business.


The course is designed to help students answer the following important questions about social media marketing and research:

1. What is social media? What are its key characteristics?

2. What are the underlying characteristics of social media? How is it consumed? What principles underlie its consumption? Why do people use it? What is its historical basis? How can we better understand it?

3. How can we research social media? What methods are available and how do they work?

4. What characterizes a good or successful social media communications campaign? How can we create one? What are the keys to its planning and implementation?

5. What are the underlying principles regarding the production and consumption of social media? How do they inform our theoretical understanding?

Requirements for course approval 

In order to complete this course successfully, students must meet the following minimum criteria:

  • Do the readings
  • Participate in class discussions
  • Come to class prepared and with an open mind
  • Work hard on the in-class and out-of-class assignments
  • Take Feedback
  • Submit final paper on time
  • Take your Learning to the Next Level

Individual Terms Papers

  • * First outline of paper due August 25, 2010
  • * Presentation and initial research presentation due August 27, 2010
  • * Final paper: Due on September 3, 2010

 Other remarks

Course aims

By the end of this course you should:

  • Be familiar with all of the key authors readings in the field of social marketing
  • Be able to use key concepts in social media marketing
  • Be able to reflect on the practical business and marketing implications of social media marketing across a wide set of industries
  • Be able to identify current gaps and opportunities for future research in the current theoretical domain of social media marketing studies

Learning and teaching activities

* This is a highly interactive, workshop-oriented and discussion-oriented class that depends upon student involvement

* Therefore, assigned readings should be read prior to attending class each week

* Lecture style presentations will introduce topics and develop ideas

* In-class discussion require active participation by all students

* Workshops in class will be highly engaging and require intense student involvement

* Professor’s blog and other blogs may be helpful additions to course material (brandthroposophy:

Required Course Readings

* Kozinets, Robert V. (2010), Doing Ethnographic Research Online, Sage: London.

* Course Package readings

* Many course readings and, especially, cases, are available online


* There are no exams in this course.

Final Grades will be based on the following assessments, weighted as indicated:

*Class Participation and Contribution -25%

Social Media Project –Stage 1, Presentation and Summary -25%

Social Media Project—Stage 2, Final Paper -50%

Final grades in this class will follow the usual distribution for electives.

Class Participation and Contribution

Your Class Participation and Contribution Grade will be based on your attendance, contributions to in-class discussions, and awareness of issues in required readings. Your participation grade will be assigned by the instructor based on these factors.

Social Media Marketing Research Project

As the major deliverable from the course, you will engage in a multi-stage social media marketing research project. Your project will be directed at one of two goals. Either you will research a social media marketing campaign and its response, formulating refined principles for marketing practice. Or you will examine a marketing or consumer research topic or site of interest, formulating refined theoretical insights to enable enhanced understanding. The two goals can also be combined, but this is a more challenging endeavor.

Marketing Practice Project: For this project you will use netnography to investigate, report upon, and analyze the online environment, which may include company’s and competitors existing online initiatives, and will include social media activity related to a particular campaign.

What communities and cultures exist in this online social space? What sort of presence does the focal company or client have in the social media arena? What general brands are being promoted? What intelligence is being gathered? Are campaigns successful or not? Why or why not? You will use your netnographic research and analysis skills in order to examine and benchmark consumer activity and marketing responses in this field and to suggest guidelines for marketing practice that are grounded in sound research. A 15-20 page written report on your specific research findings, with a data appendix of up to 10 extra pages—is your Stage 1 project deliverable. You will submit it in hardcopy, double-spaced, in 12 point New Times Roman font. It is due by email softcopy one week after the end of class.

Marketing Theory Project: For this project you will use netnography to develop our conceptual understanding of a site or topic. Beginning with a concentrated field investigation, you will circle into theory development based, at least initially, upon relevant and related course readings. You will follow sound theory development and theoretical positioning practices in order to craft a paper that could potentially be submitted to a research journal.

A 15-20 page written report on your specific research findings, with a data appendix of up to 10 extra pages—is your Stage 1 project deliverable. You will submit it in hardcopy, double-spaced, in 12 point New Times Roman font. It is due by email softcopy one week after the end of class. This will be your Stage 2 project deliverable.

On Friday, August 27, a full report will be made to the class in a 10-15 minute PowerPoint presentation, followed by a Q&A/comment session. The presentation—consisting of the PowerPoint deck with 1-page executive summary—is your Stage 1 project deliverable.


 * Note: Because of the rapidly changing nature of this course’s topic matter, new, updated, online material will likely supplement some of the readings for the course.

CLASS 1: The Cultural Foundations of Social Media—MONDAY, AUGUST 23, 2010

1. Dichter, Ernest (1966), “How Word-of-Mouth Advertising Works,” Harvard Business Review, 16, 147-66.

2. Whyte, William H., Jr. (1954), “The Web of Word of Mouth,” Fortune, 50 (November), 140-143.

3. Feick, Lawrence F. and Linda L. Price (1987), “The Market Maven: A Diffuser of Marketplace Information,” Journal of Marketing, 51(1), 83-97.

4. Cova, Bernard (1997), “Community and Consumption: Towards a Definition of the Linking Value of Products or Services,” European Journal of Marketing, 31 (3/4), 297-316.

5. Levine, et al. (2009), The Cluetrain Manifesto, Revised Edition, Chapter 1

6. Kozinets, Robert V. (1999), “E-Tribalized Marketing?: “The Strategic Implications of Virtual Communities of Consumption”, European Management Journal, Vol. 17, No. 3, 252-64.

7. Cova, Bernard and Cova, Véronique (2002), “Tribal marketing. The tribalisation of society and its impact on the conduct of marketing,” European Journal of Marketing, 36 (5/6), 595-20.

8. Muñiz, Albert M. and Thomas C. O’Guinn (2001), “Brand Community,” Journal of Consumer Research, 27(4) 412-432.

9. McAlexander, James H., John W. Schouten, and Harold F. Koenig (2002), “Building Brand Community,” Journal of Marketing, 66 (January), 38-54.

10. Schau, Hope Jensen, Albert M. Muñiz, Jr., and Eric Arnould (2009), “How Brand Community Practices Create Value,” Journal of Marketing, 73 (September), 30-51.

11. Fournier, Susan and Lara Lee (2009), “Getting Brand Communities Right,” Harvard Business Review, April, 105-111.

12. Kane, Gerald, et al. (2009), Community Relations 2.0, Harvard Business Review, November, 45-50.


CLASS 2: Principles of Online Social Behavior and Social Media—TUESDAY, AUGUST 24, 2010

1. Adam, T. L. and S. Smith (2008), “A Tribe by any Other Name,” in Adam, T. L. and S. Smith (eds.), Electronic tribes. The Virtual Worlds of Geeks, Gamers, and Scammers, University of Texas Press, Austin, USA, 11-20

2. The Wealth of Networks, Yochai Benkler, Chapter 1-2.

3. Sunstein, C. Infotopia, Chapter 1

4. Simmons, Geoff (2008), Marketing to postmodern consumers: introducing the internet chameleon,” European Journal of Marketing, Vol. 42 No. 3/4, pp. 299-310.

5. Brown, Jo, Broderick, Amanda and Lee, Nick, (2007) “Extending Social Network Theory to Conceptualise On-Line Word-of-Mouth Communication,” Journal of Interactive Marketing, 21 (3), 2-19.

6. Kozinets, Robert V., Hemetsberger, Andrea and Hope Schau (2008), “The Wisdom of Consumer Crowds: Collective Innovation in the Age of Networked Marketing,” Journal of Macromarketing, 28 (December), 339-354.

7. Molesworth, Mike, and Janice Denegri-Knott (2007), “Digital Play and the Actualization of the Consumer Imagination,” Games and Culture, Vol. 2, No. 2, 114-133.

8. Jenkins, Henry (2007), Convergence Culture: When Old and New Media Collide, Chapter 1.

9. Jayanthi, Rama K. And Jagdip Singh (2010), “Pragmatic Learning Theory: An Inquiry-Action Framework for Distributed Consumer Learning in Online Communities,” Journal of Consumer Research, 36 (April), 1058-1081.

10. Tsai, Jessica (2009), “Everyone’s Social (Already),” Customer Relationship Management, June, 34-38.

11. Rettberg, Jill Walker (2009), “‘Freshly Generated for You, and Barack Obama’ : How Social Media Represent Your Life,” European Journal of Communication, (24), 451-466.

12. Kaplan, Andreas M. and Michael Haenlein (2009), “The fairyland of Second Life: Virtual social worlds and how to use them,” Business Horizons, 52, 563—572

* CLASS EXERCISE: Finding, describing, and evaluating social media marketing campaigns

* Case Study: Burger King’s Subservient Chicken, from


CLASS 3: Applied Netnography: Social Media Marketing Research —WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 25, 2010

1. Kozinets, Robert V. (2010), Netnography: Doing Ethnographic Research Online, Chapters 1-7

2. Kozinets, Robert V. (2002), “The Field Behind the Screen: Using Netnography for Marketing Research in Online Communities,” Journal of Marketing Research, 39 (February), 61-72.

3. Kozinets, Robert V. (2006), “Click to Connect: Netnography and Tribal Advertising,” Journal of Advertising Research, 46 (September), 279-288.

4. Brown, Stephen, Robert V. Kozinets, and John F. Sherry, Jr. (2003) “Teaching Old Brands New Tricks: Retro Branding and the Revival of Brand Meaning,” Journal of Marketing, 67 (July) 19-33.

5. Muñiz, Albert M., Jr. and Hope Jensen Schau (2005), “Religiosity in the Abandoned Apple Newton Brand Community,” Journal of Consumer Research. 31(4), 737–747.

6. Nelson, Michelle R. and Cele C. Otnes (2005), “Exploring Cross-Cultural Ambivalence: a Netnography of Intercultural Wedding Message Boards,” Journal of Business Research, 58, 89-95.

7. Annamma Joy, John Sherry Jr., Alladi Venkatesh and Jonathan Deschenes (2009), “Perceiving Images and Telling Tales: A Visual and Verbal Analysis of the Meaning of the Internet, Journal of Consumer Psychology, 19, 556– 566.

8. Locke, Karen and Karen Golden-Biddle (1997), “Constructing opportunities for contribution: Structuring intertextual coherence and ‘problematizing’ in organizational studies,” Academy of Management Journal, 40 (October), 1023-1062.

9. P. N. Limerick (1993), “Dancing with Professors: The Trouble with Academic Prose,” New York Times Book Review, 31 October.

* Case Analysis: Communispace, published by New Communications Review

* Case Analysis: NetBase Solutions, Inc.


* Deliverable and Discussion: Social Media Marketing Research Plan


CLASS 4: Overviewing Strategies and Tactics in a Social/WOM World—THURSDAY, AUGUST 24, 2010

1. Mike Molesworth, Janice Denegri-Knott, (2004) “An exploratory study of the failure of online organisational communication”, Corporate Communications: An International Journal, Vol. 9 Iss: 4, pp.302 – 316

2. Godes, David, Mayzlin, Dina, Chen, Yubo, Das, Sanjiv Dellarocas, Chrysanthos, Pfeffer, Bruce , Libai, Barak Sen, Subrata, Shi, Mengze and Verlegh, Peeter (2005), “The Firm’s Management of Social Interactions,” Marketing Letters, 6 (3/4), 415–28.

3. Pitt, Leyland F., Watson, Richard T., Berthon, Pierre, Wynn, Donald and George Zinkhan (2006), “The Penguin’s Window: Corporate Brands From an Open-Source Perspective,” Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science, 34 (2), 115-127.

4. Kozinets, Robert V. (forthcoming), “Brand Fans: When Entertainment + Marketing Intersect on the Net,” in Tracey Tuten, ed. Enterprise 2.0: How Technology, E-Commerce, and Web 2.0 Are Transforming Business Virtually, Boston, MA: Houghton-Mifflin.

5. Wang, Youcheng and Daniel R. Fesenmaier (2003), “Assessing Motivation of Contribution in Online Communities: An Empirical Investigation of an Online Travel Community,” Electronic Markets, 13 (January), 33 – 45.

6. Kozinets, Robert V., Kristine de Valck, Andrea Wojnicki and Sarah Wilner (2010), “Networked Narratives: Understanding Word-of-mouth Marketing in Online Communities,” Journal of Marketing, 74 (March), 71-89.

7. Avery, Jill J., Protecting the Markers of Hegemonic Masculinity: Consumer Resistance to Gender-Bending Brand Extensions (May 2008). Available at SSRN:

8. Füller, Johann, Gregor Jawecki, and Hans Mühlbacher (2006), “Innovation Creation by Online Basketball Communities,” Journal of Business Research, 60 (1), 60-71

* Case Analysis: Fiskateers


* Discussion: Initial Findings–Social Media Marketing Research


CLASS 5: Practices and Projects: Metrics, Ethics, and Research—FRIDAY, AUGUST 27, 2010

1. Kozinets (2010), Netnography, Chapters 8, 9 and 10

2. Kozinets, Robert V., Frank-Martin Belz, and Pierre McDonagh (forthcoming), “Social Media for Social Change,” in David Glen Mick, Simone Pettigrew, Cornelia Pechmann, and Julie L. Ozanne, eds. Transformative Consumer Research to Benefit Global Welfare. Rokka, Joonas (2010), “Netnographic inquiry and new translocal sites of the social,” International Journal of Consumer Studies, 34 (4), 381-387.

3. Rokka, Joonas and Johanna Moisander (2009), “Environmental dialogue in online communities: negotiating ecological citizenship among global travelers,” International Journal of Consumer Studies, 33 (2), 199-205.

4. Tsai, Jessica (2009), “Taking the Measure of Social Media,” Customer Relationship Management, July, 17-18.

5. Clemons, Eric K. (2009), “The complex problem of monetizing virtual electronic social networks,” Decision Support Systems, 48, 46–56.

6. Social Media: 20 free e-books about social media: (scan and read at will)

7. Social Media: Research, see: 80/SNSResearch.html, a bibliography from communication, information science, anthropology, sociology, economics, political science, cultural studies, computer science, etc. (scan and read at will)