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Almost Equal: Consumption under Fragmented Stigma

Eichert, C. & Luedicke, M. K. ORCID: 0000-0003-3032-157X (2022). Almost Equal: Consumption under Fragmented Stigma. Journal of Consumer Research, 49(3), pp. 409-429. doi: 10.1093/jcr/ucab077


How do historically stigmatized social groups consume strategically when they have achieved greater recognition, status, and respectability in society? Based on a seven-year interpretive social representations analysis of gay men in Germany, the authors first show that dominant, stigmatizing representations of such groups do not ameliorate uniformly and for all. Instead, they fragment into oppressive, enabling, and normalized societal representations that different consumers encounter to different degrees in their everyday lives. In the wake of these societal shifts, the stigmatized group itself disintegrates into five representational subgroups, referred to as underground, discrete, hybrid, assimilated, and post-stigma social groups. These subgroups use consumption for different and partly opposing strategic purposes, such as hiding and denial, collective resistance, and deconstruction of differences. The authors synthesize their findings into a conceptual model of consumption under fragmented stigma that extends prior research on consumption under dominant and total stigma configurations and suggests ways in which consumption can mitigate but also reinforce stigma. In doing so, they also shed light on the complex lived experiences of a vulnerable social group that has become almost equal.

Publication Type: Article
Additional Information: This is a pre-copyedited, author-produced version of an article accepted for publication in Journal of Consumer Research following peer review. The version of record Christian A Eichert, Marius K Luedicke, Almost Equal: Consumption under Fragmented Stigma, Journal of Consumer Research, 2022, is available online at:
Publisher Keywords: stigma, stigmatized consumers, gay men, LGBTQ, subculture, consumer culture
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HD Industries. Land use. Labor
H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
Departments: Bayes Business School > Management
SWORD Depositor:
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