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Handbook of Qualitative Research Methods in Marketing

Edited by Russell W. Belk

The Handbook of Qualitative Research Methods in Marketing offers both basic and advanced treatments intended to serve academics, students, and marketing research professionals. The 42 chapters begin with a history of qualitative methods in marketing by Sidney Levy and continue with detailed discussions of current thought and practice in: research paradigms such as grounded theory and semiotics; research contexts such as advertising and brands; data collection methods such as projectives and netnography; data analysis methods such as metaphoric and visual analyses; presentation topics such as videography and reflexivity; applications such as ZMET applied to Broadway plays and depth interviews with executives; and special issues such as multi-sited ethnography and research on sensitive topics.
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Chapter 18: Using Oral History Methods in Consumer Research

Richard Elliott and Andrea Davies


Richard Elliott and Andrea Davies This chapter introduces oral history methods and positions oral history as a useful but neglected approach and demonstrates how oral history can provide consumer researchers with a means to examine critically their theories, knowledge and assumptions about consumers and their consumption. As an example of the method in use, we present a case study of oral history applied to the evolution of brand consciousness in 1918–65. Both are characteristic of consumer culture and are deeply implicated in our theories of symbolic consumption, branding and brand theory. Perhaps understandably, empirical evidence of early mass-consumer culture is limited principally to documents of production flows, shopping inventories and other market technologies such as advertisements of branded goods. These form the basis of an analysis which largely omits the voice of the consumer. Oral history brings back to our analysis of early mass-consumer culture the voices of ordinary consumers. Focused on generating and archiving consumer (life) histories this approach takes the ordinary and everyday remembered experiences of shopping to collate consumption biographies that can be used to inform a critical (re-)analysis of the development of consumer culture. Oral history identifies the meaning ordinary people have given to brands and brand choices throughout their lives. It also records the impacts and influence of brand consciousness on their lives in terms of their changing expectations, desires and behaviours. While historical methods have been used in consumer research, Smith and Lux (1993) gave only brief mention to the...

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