In this interdisciplinary research group, we explore the ongoing digitalization of consumption. Smartphones, tablets, smart watches, and numerous other digital devices are now part of our everyday lives. Similarly, social media, online forums, blogs, webpages and other online spaces have now taken centre stage in consumers lives shaping how we organise our lives. Digitalization has led to the reorganisation of a broad range of everyday practices, intervening in everything from shopping and music listening to dating, cooking or socializing with friends.
The digitalization of consumption is complex and with varied effects. While some devices contribute to empower consumers through enabling forms of independent market transactions (i.e., local food markets distributed through social media platforms), others collect data to predict and control consumers, feeding back customized commercial content through automatized technologies (i.e., AI-based recommendation systems). These important transformations, both positive and negative, warrant scholarly attention, both for those interested in the consumer of the future and those more preoccupied with what digitalization will mean for society at large.
Our previous work has investigated how smartphones reconfigure the practice of shopping, changing the agency of consumers and how they move and engage with retail spaces. We have also explored how the digitalization of music changes the way we listen to and value music. More focused on sustainability, we have looked closer into how “ethical consumption apps” are worked into consumers everyday lives and, once in place, enable consumers to perform ethical consumption actions. In exploring these issues, we rely on a combination of ethnographic and digital methods to trace the ways in which digital devices shape consumers lives, both on- and offline.
Our ongoing research projects address issues such as the role that digital devices play in enabling local food markets, how digital platforms enables new potentially more sustainable modes of food acquisition, or how consumers relate to and manage companies’ efforts to collect and commercialize their data.
Other projects explore the changing character of the digitalized consumer as a new form of market actor who can both be a maker of markets and a victim to them.