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Chronic Consumer Liminality: Being Flexible in Precarious Times

Mimoun, L. & Bardhi, F. (2021). Chronic Consumer Liminality: Being Flexible in Precarious Times. Journal of Consumer Research, 49(3), pp. 496-519. doi: 10.1093/jcr/ucab073


This study introduces the notion of chronic consumer liminality (CCL) defined as a recurrently activated state of transition experienced when engaging in frequent, multiple, and nonlinear consumer life transitions. CCL is characterized by (1) reoccurring transitions, (2) ongoing self-transformation, and (3) the embracing of precarity. We find evidence of CCL in a multimethod qualitative study of the flexible consumer lifestyle. CCL emerges as a response to the liquidification of society and the rise of a marketplace ideology of flexibility. CCL is manifested and managed through three CCL navigation processes: destabilizing consumption routines, liquidifying consumption, and asserting control over time and money. Thus, consumers experiencing CCL tend to prefer variety seeking and serendipity over routine even for mundane choices, access-based consumption across domains, and a productivity orientation toward free time. Three skills also facilitate CCL: resilient optimism, adaptability, and self-preservation. This study contributes to research on liminality, consumption in liminality, liquid consumption, and precarity. We conclude with the managerial implications of our framework.

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 Laetitia Mimoun, Fleura Bardhi, Chronic Consumer Liminality: Being Flexible in Precarious Times, Journal of Consumer Research, 2021 is available online at:
Publisher Keywords: chronic liminality, flexibility, life transition, liquid consumption, precarity, access-based consumption
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HD Industries. Land use. Labor > HD28 Management. Industrial Management
Departments: Bayes Business School > Management
SWORD Depositor:
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