Aesthetics and Consumption: Mapping Out Approaches to the Concept of Aesthetics within Consumer Research

Sushchenko, O. (Speaker)

Activity: Talk or presentation typesConference presentation


The term ‘aesthetics’ has been widely used in academic literature in the field of consumer research from early 1990s. The term is considered to play a significant role in understanding central aspects of consumption, such as consumer preferences, tastes, meaning-making, identity building, as well as behavioral models. However, studies have approached and used the concept of aesthetics in a variety of ways, leaving the definition vague and lacking a commonly shared understanding. As a result, discourse on the topic of aesthetics within the field could be described as controversial or even misleading. An important question thus remains unanswered: how does marketing define and approach aesthetics?
In our ongoing study we are mapping out the main approaches in using the term ‘aesthetics’ in literature on consumption from 1990 until today. Through this endeavor, we aim to demonstrate the different ways, in which the term aesthetics has been theorized, approached, and applied in studying consumption.
We have recently begun analysis of selected papers, with the aim of categorizing each according to how the study defines, theorizes, and uses the term aesthetics. All papers will be analyzed by both authors, thus allowing for the combination of different backgrounds and expertise in our analysis. Some of the initial categories we have so far are: acculturated aesthetics, visual aesthetics, aesthetics as symbolism, and perceptual aesthetics.
Based on the categorization, we aim to present the main ways, in which literature focused on researching consumption approaches and understands ‘aesthetics.’ We further intend to show how these categories relate one to another. The relationality may unearth some of the ways, in which incompatible approaches to aesthetics have been used in previous studies, as well as point to how approaches can possibly be used in support of one another. In all, we hope to provide clarity for the use and understanding of the term of aesthetics.
Period5 Jul 2018
Event titleMargins, Futures and Tasks of Aesthetics
Event typeConference
LocationHelsinki, Finland
Degree of RecognitionInternational