Submit a Manuscript to the Journal

Consumption Markets & Culture

For a Special Issue on

Re-Imagining Family

Manuscript deadline
31 May 2024

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Special Issue Editor(s)

Lydia Ottlewski, University of Southern Denmark
[email protected]

Joonas Rokka, Emlyon Business School
[email protected]

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Re-Imagining Family

Consumption Markets & Culture has a long-standing commitment to critically examine and question dominant market-mediated representations, signifying practices, and institutions that shape consumers’ life and possibilities for expression, difference, and modes of being. This call for papers invites both empirical and conceptual papers that build connections across theoretical and/or substantive boundaries toward re-imagining our understanding of family – one of the most powerful cultural institutions. Prior consumer and marketing research has shown that many consumers feel marginalized or stigmatized by dominant social and market structures with respect to differences and identity struggles such as gender and sexuality (Kates 2002; Eichert and Luedicke 2022), ethnicity (Luedicke 2015; Peñaloza, 1994), race (Crockett 2017), physical ideals (Scaraboto and Fischer 2013), or religion (Sandikci and Ger 2010). This Special Issue calls attention to new perspectives, alternative forms, and practices of family – an area where consumers with a non-traditional understanding of family may also experience marginalization or stigmatization.

Scholars in our field have remained fairly conventional in their treatment and understanding of family, despite the fact that the society is increasingly challenging what a family can or ought to be (Furstenberg 2020). Family is a cultural institution that is both intimate and public and regarded as fundamental to society. The norm in Western societies, that romantic partnerships between parents form the basis for creating a family, remains largely unquestioned (Illouz 2019). Falling in love, getting married (Smock and Schwartz 2020, 10), “finding a long-term partner and having children” (Cherlin 2020, 68) remains the “core institution of family life” (Holland 2013, 276) in the social imagination. Alternative, non-traditional families face many challenges, especially if they violate the heteronormative model of the family or try to “redefine themselves without the traditional concepts of the family” (Digoix 2020, 6), and find “alternative pathways to parenthood” (Guzzo and Hayford 2020, 125).

In Western societies, family is currently undergoing many changes, such as delayed marriage, voluntary childlessness (Furstenberg 2020), re-marriage, multiple-partner fertility (Smock and Schwartz 2020), delayed childbirth (Guzzo and Hayford 2020), increasing divorce rates, increased unmarried cohabitation, LGBTQ+ unions (Cherlin 2020), and an increasing variety of family bonds (Holland 2013). Despite such documented trends, many of the regulations governing family order do not reflect the lived diversity of family constellations (Cherlin 2020). Even as alternative family models such as LGBTQIA+ unions gain more legal legitimacy (Perry-Jenkins and Gerstel 2020), regulations for procedures such as second-parent adoption or joint adoption (Digoix 2020), assisted reproductive techniques (Furstenberg 2020), and surrogacy and sperm donation in such unions lag behind and remain controversial (Digoix 2020). In addition to regulatory obstacles, alternative family models also face powerful social and religious constraints (Holland 2013). Despite these social and legal barriers, non-traditional families are slowly “changing family practices in the Western nations” (Furstenberg 2020, 364), re- interpreting the “process of becoming a parent and social meanings of family” (Guzzo and Hayford 2020, 125) and thereby expanding the “definition of the family [...] to include networks of people who establish close bonds” (Cherlin 2020, 75). Successes in the realm of redefining family constitute social innovations in an institution that is both intimate and public and that is regarded as fundamental to society.

Previous family-oriented consumer research has advanced our understandings of family identity (Epp and Price, 2008), family assemblages (Barnhart and Peñaloza, 2013; Huff and Cotte, 2016), and market offerings for families (Barnhart et al., 2014; Epp & Velagaleti, 2014); Huff and Cotte 2016; Barnhart, Huff and Cotte 2014). However, the understanding of what constitutes family is largely taken for granted. A welcome change of perspective are studies on LGBTQ subcultures (Eichert and Luedicke 2022), Indian matchmaking (Pradhan and Drake 2023), companionship beyond traditional family bonds (Bajde and Ottlewski 2016; Ottlewski 2018; Ottlewski, Gollnofer and Schouten 2019), and non-traditional family constellations (Ottlewski 2021), pointing into new directions of what family is and could be.

This Special Issue opens the door for embracing a broader view of family in consumer research. The Guest editors encourage scholars to re-imagine, discuss, theorize, and systematically explore new perspectives to family. We welcome interdisciplinary perspectives and invite new research addressing a more inclusive understanding of family. We are therefore looking for contributions on the following topics (but not limited to these) that might be suitable for the special issue:

  • Alternative family identities, practices & lifestyles
  • Family, consumption & society
  • Family, diversity & representations
  • Family formation (including apps and platforms for dating)
  • Non-human companionship (animals, robots, etc.)
  • Novel social arrangements, mediated and shaped by digital platforms
  • Legal boundaries & societal norms around family
  • Normalizing and legitimizing alternative family forms
  • The role of technology, social media & family
  • Non-Western perspectives on family
  • Co-parenting
  • Voluntary childlessness
  • LGBTQIA+ unions
  • Non-traditional family constellations
  • Family politics
  • Companionship that is being regarded as family
  • Public discourses around family
  • Religion and family

Submission Instructions

Submission instructions

The deadline for submission is May 31,2024. All submissions will undergo double-blind peer review. Papers accepted are expected to be online by January/February 2025. Potential submitters are welcome to contact the Special Issue Guest Editors Lydia Ottlewski ([email protected]) or Joonas Rokka ([email protected]) regarding the potential fit of their papers with the special issue theme or with any other queries.

Authors are encouraged to carefully follow Consumption Markets, and Culture guidelines for formatting the paper and references at:

Please submit your manuscripts by tbd to the following submission portal:

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