Women are the world’s most powerful consumers, yet they are largely marketed to erroneously through misconceptions and patriarchal views that distort the reality of women’s lives, bodies, and work. This book examines the contradictions and mismatches between women’s everyday experiences and market representations. It considers how women themselves exhibit paradoxical behaviour in both resisting and supporting conflicting messages. The volume emphasizes paradox as a form of agency and negotiation through which women develop dialogical meanings. The contributions highlight the ways in which women transform inconsistencies and contradictions in advertising and marketing, global consumption practices, and material consumption into positive practices for living. The rich range of ethnographic accounts, drawn from countries including the United States, Brazil, Mexico, Denmark, Japan, and China, provide readers with a valuable perspective on consumer behaviour.
Table of Contents
Introduction: Women, consumption and paradox Timothy de Waal Malefyt and Maryann McCabe
Part I: Gender engagements, consumption interactions and marketplace ambiguities
1. Women and chocolate: identity narratives of sensory and sensual enjoyment Maryann McCabe and Timothy de Waal Malefyt
2. ‘Shapewear or nothing to wear’: the ambiguity of shapewear in the plus-size fashion market Daiane Scaraboto and Maria Carolina Zanette
3. Creating interactional alignment in call center customer care Margaret H. Szymanski, Patricia Wall and Jennifer Watts-Englert
4. Financial technology and the gender gap: designing and delivering services for women Erin B. Taylor and Anette Broløs
5. Being connected: mobile phones in the lives of domestic workers in Mexico City Carmen Bueno and Sandra Alarcón
6. Untangling women’s braided relationships with music Barbara Olsen
Part II: Histories of gender imageries and practices in flux
7. Women under control: advertising and the business of female health, 1890-1950 Marina Frid and Everardo Rocha
8. Company uniforms and gender dynamics in the Japanese workplace Tomoko Hamada
9. Women’s consumption of cosmetic products in China: between logistics, conflict and symbolism Dominique Desjeux and Yang Xiao Min
10. Shifts and paradoxes of gender over the course of a career Patricia Sunderland
11. Little luxuries: decency, deservingness and delight Russell Belk
Timothy de Waal Malefyt is a Clinical Professor of Marketing at the Gabelli School of Business, Fordham University, New York. A trained anthropologist, he has over 15 years of business experience working in advertising firms.
Maryann McCabe is a Research Associate in the Department of Anthropology, University of Rochester, New York. She is Founder and Principal of Cultural Connections LLC, with over 20 years of consumer research experience.