“Something is missing”: Melancholia and belonging in collective consumption

Alice Wickstrom, Iain Denny, Joel Hietanen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

18 Citations (Scopus)
136 Downloads (Pure)


In this essay, we explore the limits of marketized belonging through Kristeva?s theorization of melancholia and desire. This allows us to problematize ?joyful? accounts of societal re-enchantment and how ?belonging? through collectives of consumption (such as neo-tribes, subcultures of consumption, and brand communities) is generally seen as a natural response to modernist rationalization and increased individualization. Instead, we argue that the scholarly understanding of collective forms of consumption has been premised upon paradoxical ground due to the notion of the subject-as-consumer as lacking often being implicitly reproduced, albeit theoretically neglected, allowing for the reproduction of romanticized ideals of marketized ?communality.? We foreground how tensions between individuality and communality are negotiated within markets and argue that collective forms of consumption feed upon separation, fragmentation, and the suspension of ?joy? rather than relationality and belonging. We propose that this allows for a better understanding of the desire to become through collective consumption and direct further attention toward questions related to liminality, detachment, loss, and exclusion.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)75-92
Number of pages18
JournalMarketing Theory
Issue number1
Early online date7 Jul 2020
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2021
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • Belonging
  • collective consumption
  • desire
  • Kristeva
  • lack
  • liminality
  • melancholia
  • psychoanalysis


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