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15 June 2021
Luxury or Luxuries? Integration of Cross-Disciplinary Frameworks and Theories for a Holistic Conceptualization of Luxury
“Luxury is not the opposite of poverty but that of vulgarity” Gabriel (Coco) Chanel
“My greatest luxury is not having to justify myself to anyone. Luxury is the freedom of mind, independence, in short, the politically incorrect” Karl Lagerfeld
Luxury is a cross-disciplinary research area covering different empirical fields including fashion, arts, food, etc. Although luxury is a well-established topic in literature, most of the scholars have mainly focused on luxury goods and brands (e.g., Kapferer, 2012; Hennigs et al., 2012; Vigneron and Johnson, 2004), without questioning the meanings of the concept of luxury. Also, current studies disregard the idea that luxury is a holistic and evolving experience that can encompass various meanings depending on the perspective and the level of analysis followed by researchers (Batat, 2019). Thus, the concept of luxury has become more confusing due to the increased accessibility of luxury goods that creates alternative categories such as “premium,” “high-end,” or “limited editions.” The lack of research that questions the meanings of luxury from a cross-disciplinary perspective is then problematic, as the existing traditional view of luxury as a functional utility (Hanet al., 2010) fails to capture its intangible and paradoxical aspects that can deepen our understanding of the cultural complexity of luxury consumption and consumers’ heterogeneous perceptions of luxury from the perspective of critical theory. This view has been recently echoed by Armitage and Roberts (2016) in critical luxury studies, an emerging field of research that integrates critical theory as an approach to examine luxury.
While much of the literature in marketing examined consumers’ behaviors and attitudes towards luxury goods consumption, the perspectives adopted and theories that define the concept of luxury from a cross-disciplinary perspective, particularly regarding the sociocultural setting in which luxury is embedded, its history and the way it has evolved over the years, and the perceptions of consumers according to their experiences, subjectivity, knowledge, and education, has received significantly less consideration. For instance, in exploring research that focused on luxury from a Consumer Culture Theory (CCT) approach, we can state that the meaning of luxury has generally been associated with status (Hanet al., 2010), conspicuous and inconspicuous consumption (Wu et al., 2017; Eckhardt et al.,2015; Berger and Ward, 2010; Mason, 1984), and materialism (Podoshen et al., 2011), assuming that luxury originates its meaning principally from a conventional standpoint that defines luxury according to economic and social benefits (Hemetsberger, 2018; Vickers and Renand, 2003). The analysis of recent works on the meanings of luxury from a consumer perspective shows that Luxury is a multifaceted concept and the identification of tangible/intangible and personal/social dichotomies is relevant in developing a comprehensive understanding of luxury consumption and purchase motivations and attitudes among different segments of consumers (Brun and Castelli, 2013).
Yet recent works examining luxury from a cross-cultural perspective by considering luxury as an experience instead of a good (Batat, 2019; Batat, 2017) highlight the importance of the holistic and multidimensional aspects of luxury (Batat, 2020;) as well as its dual character (Armitage, 2021) that scholars should consider while examining consumers’ luxury perceptions to set the foundations of the contemporary conceptualization of luxury from the cross-disciplinary perspective. As an example of the use of both Bourdieu’s and Veblen’s theory as a perspective into defining luxury, Batat (2019, p.14) redefines the concept of luxury as: “both evolving and multidimensional. It gathers several meanings thatthe individual assigns to it according to the norms and codes of his/her ownconsumption culture. These meanings evolve with time as well as with socialand individual changes. Luxury is also closely tied to the culture and practices of the group in which it emerges, shapes, and develops. Therefore, luxury is inall of us. It is produced by and for the individuals and professionals, institutionsas well as by political and social actors who practice it. What is luxury for someis, therefore, mundane for others. Thus, the definition of luxury depends on thechosen perspective that must be identified beforehand.”
In calling for future consideration of a cross-disciplinary perspective on the concept of luxury, we, therefore, echo the recent call for papers for a Special Issue on “Unconventional Luxury” edited by von Wallpach et al. (2018) and contribute to advancing research on luxury that moves beyond the conventional economic and social conceptualization of luxury as expansive, rare, and exclusive goods (products and services). This involves taking into account the perspective of multidisciplinary theories and framework to develop a holistic definition of luxury, including its paradoxes and dark sides. Following this logic, the special issue welcomes studies about luxury going beyond the conventional logic of luxury as conspicuous consumption of products or brands and instead considering the cultural, social, ideological, epistemological, historical, experiential, ethical, idiosyncratic aspects that define the luxury concept according to its tangible and intangible features, at different levels (micro, meso, and macro) from different stakeholders’ perspectives (e.g., luxury industry, NGOs, consumers, artisans), theoretical frameworks (e.g., the sociology of luxury, luxury anthropology), and through cross-cultural lenses (e.g., Asian Luxury, French luxury, American Luxury).
The special issue will introduce less predominant and rather cross-disciplinary perspectives regarding the definition of the concept of luxury as a whole by invitingtheoretical and empirical articles from different disciplines (e.g., sociology, anthropology, marketing, cultural studies, psychology) with quantitative and qualitative methodologies or other alternative qualitative techniques used off and online. Submissions to be considered for this Special Issue should advance our understanding of the conceptualization of luxury from a cross-disciplinary perspective through the development of frameworks, concepts, and theories. Originality and alignment between theory, methodology, the quality of the data, and the contributions to the existing literature will also be considered. All disciplinary, conceptual, and theoretical perspectives are welcomed to cover, but is not limited, to the following topics:
- Transformation and evolution of luxury consumption and production practices in the marketplace;
- Luxury meanings shaped by identity construction and life changes;
- The role played by macro and micro forces in shaping luxury practices;
- Anti-luxury, alternative, and hidden luxury cultures;
- Temporal and cultural dimensions of luxury;
- Typologies of luxury;
- Sociocultural construction of luxury;
- The role of traditional media and social media in constructing the meaning of luxury;
- Luxury: from object to experience;
- Pandemic luxury;
- The dark side of luxury consumption;
- Luxury as mundane consumption;
- A Bourdieusian perspective on luxury;
- Postmodern luxury;
- The spillover effects of luxury;
- Post-structural luxury research;
- Studies advancing our understanding of luxufication;
- Domestication of luxury;
- Luxury, gender, and feminist theory;
- Luxury and environmentalism;
- Luxury Consumption Cultures (LCC);
- New kinds of luxuries
- Luxury, pleasure, and guilt;
- Ubiquitous and the meanings of luxury in the digital era.
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All manuscripts should not exceed 45 pages (all inclusive) and submitted through the Consumption Markets & Culture online submission system. Submissions should follow the manuscript format guidelines for Consumption Markets & Culture found at: https://www.tandfonline.com/action/journalInformation?show=editorialBoard&journalCode=gcmc20
Inquiries can be directed to the Guest Special Issue editor: Wided Batat ([email protected]). Submission due date for papers: 15 June 2021