Dynamic ideologies : insights from the Slow Food movement
Ideology is the framework in which all consumer decisions are made and as such, an understanding of ideology is important for marketers. There is however, little research which conceptualises either what ideology actually is, or the role that it plays in a marketing context. One of the most obvious problems is the tendency for scholars to treat ideology as static, rather than exploring its dynamic nature. This thesis examines ideological change in the context of a consumer activist movement. The Slow Food movement is a contemporary example of such a movement and provides an interesting research case for investigating ideology. The research is guided in that it uses a framework provided by new social movement theorist Alberto Melucci to study ideological change. A number of research propositions are derived from this framework about the form, content and role of ideology and how these vary over time. The histories of the Slow Food movement members are therefore 'told' in this thesis through the eyes of Melucci's criteria. A historical methodology is used to search for evidence based on these research propositions. The data is collected at two different levels of analysis: at an organisational level and an individual activist level. The thesis makes a number of significant theoretical and practical contributions: • The research provides a comprehensive historical narrative of the Slow Food movement. This includes insights into food activists' thoughts and behaviours and how these have changed over time. • The research extends on current marketing conceptualisations of ideology by investigating how it is operationalised in a marketing context. This includes an understanding of how it is co-produced, how it changes over time and how it is used strategically by a consumer activist movement to reach its objectives. In achieving these ends, the research has also extended on several well known marketing concepts and theories by applying them to the research context of ideology. • The research overviews the work done in marketing to date on consumer activist movements and suggests the new title 'consumer activist movement theory' for this body of literature. Building on this, the research then shows how consumer activist movements can be conceptualised as a subset of social movements and how these can be differentiated from other types of collective actions that occur in the marketplace. A systematically logical and simple way of differentiating between different types of consumer activist movements is identified. • The research emphasises the importance of ideology as a leadership resource and provides consumer activist movement leaders with the knowledge of how to approach and assess their movement's ideology. The major finding of this thesis is that Melucci's framework for evaluating ideology - when used in conjunction with a number of marketing theories such as tribal marketing - is useful in helping marketers understand ideological change in the context of contemporary consumer activist movements. Future research could investigate if this framework can be extended into other contexts such as understanding the ideologies of political parties.
Advisor: Aitken, Robert; Wooliscroft, Ben
Degree Name: Doctor of Philosophy
Degree Discipline: Marketing
Publisher: University of Otago
Research Type: Thesis