Article first published online: 11 FEB 2014
© 2013 by The American Anthropological Association. Some rights reserved.
Ethnographic Praxis in Industry Conference Proceedings
Volume 2013, Issue 1, pages 386–404, September 2013
How to Cite
ARNOULD, E. and CAYLA, J. (2013), Consumer fetish. Ethnographic Praxis in Industry Conference Proceedings, 2013: 386–404. doi: 10.1111/j.1559-8918.2013.00032.x
- Issue published online: 11 FEB 2014
- Article first published online: 11 FEB 2014
Commercial ethnography has become an important activity for accessing the lived experiences of consumers that are constructed as “others” that firms have to discover and manage. In organizational contexts where the necessity to accumulate organizational knowledge about markets have become paramount, the figure of the “consumer” has become a quasi-magical object bestowed with the aura of the real, a fetish that comes to stand for the market, and symbolizes the firm's effective orientation towards the market. In this paper we demonstrate how the anthropological concept of the fetish may be usefully employed in understanding the nature of this process, whereby the voices and images of consumers are endowed with power within organizational contexts. Consumer fetish is at once a quasi object and a manifestation of analogical knowledge.