Design and Innovation Research Seminar | Weatherhead School at Case Western Reserve University

Design and Innovation Research Seminar

YouTube Utopianism: Profanation, Social Media, and Consumer Critiques of Capitalism

ABSTRACT: Utopia is a resilient concept that has long been fraught with ambivalence and skepticism.  Some business and marketing research has found utopia to be a feature incorporated into the many small satisfactions of consumerist existence in neoliberal times, while others see the utopian flame burning bright within activism and resistant communities. This presentation addresses the complexity of the topic by overviewing and extending theory relating utopia to consumer culture and then by investigating how ordinary people use social media to participate in discourse critical of capitalism. The empirical research uses netnography to explore three sites of utopian discourse on YouTube, presenting 13,935 comments from 9,155 distinct user names. Utopian discourse on social media expands our understanding of consumer activism and resistance in the digital age. It provides an understanding that transcends dichotomized views of utopia either incorporated into low-key marketing utopias, or present mainly with organized activist groups and enclaves. It also draws our attention to the participation of consumers in their own activist transformation, opening a wealth of possibilities for further exploration in the fields of marketing, consumer research, and communication.

BIO: Robert V. Kozinets is the Jayne and Hans Hufschmid Chair of Strategic Public Relations and Business Communication at the University of Southern California’s Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism and Marshall School of Business. He is the author of over 100 publications, including book chapters, conference papers, peer-reviewed articles, published research poetry, videographies, two single authored method books, one co-authored methods book, and a co-edited volume about consumer tribes. Currently, Kozinets is writing the third edition of his netnography text while also acting as Associate Editor of the Journal of Consumer Research, co-editor of an upcoming JACR issue on "Trust in Doubt", and an Academic Trustee of the Marketing Science Institute. He was a co-chair of the recent Association for Consumer Research 2018 conference in Dallas, as well as past Area Editor for the Journal of Marketing and Associate Editor for the Journal of Retailing.

Friday, Nov. 30, 2018 from 10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.
Peter B. Lewis Building, Room 120
11119 Bellflower Road
Cleveland, OH 44106-7235
United States
Speaker(s): Robert V. Kozinets, PhD, USC Annenberg
Sponsored by: Design and Innovation Department


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