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Disruptive Marketplaces: A Framework and Investigation of the Role of Place in the Disruption of Social Norms


Marketers construct environments—physical and digital marketplaces—that frame consumption activities, affect customer behavior, and encourage particular forms of social interaction. Implicit in studies of the effects of place on consumer experience are notions of disruption. Missing in that literature is an explanation of disruption and its impact on consumer experiences of marketplaces. This dissertation is composed of three essays that develop a framework for the analysis of the disruptive capacity of marketplaces and investigate this empirically.

The first essay (Chapter 1) is titled, “Consuming Order in Marketplaces: A Conceptual Model of the Disruptive Capacities of Place.” This conceptual essay introduces and defines the notion of “disruptive marketplaces.” Further, an analytical framework is developed that can be used to investigate how different elements of marketplaces affect consumer experience.

The second essay (Chapter 2) is titled, “The Thrift Store as Disruptive Marketplace: The Effects of Place on the Consumer Experience through a Mix of Solid and Liquid Consumption Characteristics.” This essay utilizes the framework in Essay 1 in an ethnographic study at a thrift store. Through the employment of the framework, solid and liquid consumption characteristics are analyzed as they relate to the three different elements of place. Essay 2 provides preliminary evidence for the utility of the conceptual framework.

The third essay (Chapter 3) is titled, “Structure and Agency in Place: Consumer Experience and Subject-Object Relationships in a Thrift Store Environment.” This essay builds on our understanding of how consumers shape and are shaped by the material world around them within marketplaces, and the structures that shape social norms. This essay contributes a three- step analysis on how the transposition of schemas (or consumer creativity) is encouraged in a thrift store environment.

Contributions to the marketing and consumer research literatures as well as marketer- related implications are expanded on throughout the three essays and include a broader understanding of the effects of place on consumer experience, consumer expectations, consumption characteristics, and consumer creativity. This dissertation contributes a new perspective of place that involves three interrelated elements that affect social norms— emplacement, spatial, and temporal dimensions of place. Furthermore, an ethnographic study at a thrift store uncovers how consumers are influenced by these elements in this particular marketplace as they engage in a mix of solid and liquid consumption practices. Finally, a focus on how consumers relate to structures at the same time that they demonstrate agency reveals how the transposition of schemas within a thrift store environment, or consumer creativity, is enacted.

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