Genders After Gender: Fragmentation,
Intersectionality and Stereotyping
July 4-6 2016. ESCP Europe, Paris
The Gender Marketing and Consumer Behavior conference is a biennal conference on gender studies, welcoming contributions from any field. The conference has constantly been supported by the Association for Consumer Research (ACR).
For this 13th Gender, Marketing, and Consumer Research conference, we build on a long tradition of research. At a micro level, research on gender has mostly focused on how femininity and masculinity relate to consumer identity and sexual orientation (Fung 2002; Holt and Thompson 2004; Joy and Venkatesh 1994; Kates 2002; 2004; Scharff 2011; Visconti 2008). At a macro level, research on gender has explored—among others—gender(ed) cultural models (Evans, Riley, and Shankar 2010; Holt and Thompson 2004; Martin, Schouten, and McAlexander 2006; Schroeder and Zwick 2004; Thompson and Holt 2004, ); feminism and the socio-political implications of gender (Bristor and Fischer 1993; Catterall, Maclaran, and Stevens 2005; Fischer and Bristor 1994; Hirschman 1993; Peñaloza 1996); and the relationship among gender, markets, and marketing research and practice (Kates 1999; Keating and McLoughlin 2005; Peñaloza 1994; Schroeder and Borgerson 1998; Stern 1993; 1999).
This research has always emphasised the role of consumption in gender construction, and vice versa. Therefore, gender cannot be thought of as an isolated concept, independent of social, cultural, and commercial influences. Gender studies on male domination have acknowledged that social roles, positions, and practices do matter. Today we also need to consider gender in an evolving world where fragmentation of identities—or liquidity of life (Bauman 2005)—is leading to a fragmentation of gender identities, which are intersected by ethnicity, social class, and cultures (global, local, cosmopolitan, etc.). Masculinities have replaced masculinity (Connell 2005), femininities have replaced femininity (Froidevaux-Metterie 2015). Moreover, these concepts are blurring (Butler 1990) as recent emphasis on “agender” fashion suggests (e.g. Gucci’s two last menswear collections, Pitti’s 2015 trade show, and Selfridges’ 2015 Agender collection).
In this conference, we would like to encourage discussion on three key topics.
1. The fragmentation of gender
Following on from Butler (1990), Connell (2005), Scharff (2011), and many others, we cannot deal with gender, femininity or masculinity as fixed and clearly defined concepts: “(…) gender is always a doing, though not a doing by a subject who might be said to pre-exist the deed” (Butler 1990: 25). Performativity of gender results in different kinds of gender, varying according to life cycle, places, roles, situations, and status. This has always been the case. Yet, our times are experiencing an acceleration of the pace at which such life cycles, places, roles, situations, and statuses change (Rosa 2003). And gender as well (Gregersdötter and Hållén 2013). Women’s and men’s roles and status have changed, resulting in a permanent negotiation of roles between the sexes. New kinds of feminisms have emerged, valorising the care dimension of femininity as well as the feminine body: “Why, after having been only bodies, women should live today as if they had no body?” (Froidevaux-Metterie 2015: 13).
2. The intersectionality of gender
For many researchers, gender has been looked at through the economic lens of patriarchy. Yet, this overlooks the fact that patriarchy is also a cultural and social model of domination that required a permanent negotiation. Elaborating on Goffman’s idea of “gender arrangement”, Macé (2015) points out that in Europe the transformation of family, employment, individualistic consumption and the attempts to decrease gender inequalities result in new forms of “after-patriarchy”. “Recasting patriarchy in this way enables one to grasp the logic of action and internal contradictions of each type of arrangement by identifying their singularities without placing them hierarchically on an «axis of progress». Moreover, this analytical move also makes it possible to compare all gender arrangements according to their relationship to the principle of patriarchy.” (Macé 2014) An intersectional approach to gender thus implies its exploration though more dimensions at once, which might be (after-)patriarchy as well as age, ethnicity, professional culture, religious identity, social class, and more. As Gopaldas and DeRoy (2015) posit, intersectionality not only helps construct more inclusive representations of facts but also helps reduce the risk of attributing a disproportionate role to a single variable.
3. Marketing and the making of gender stereotypes
The role of marketing in the construction of gender stereotypes, and therefore in the limitation of subject positions, is problematic. As markets mature, companies continually seek new prospect targets (long tail marketing; Brynjolfsson, Hu, and Smith 2006). Gender seems an easy way to attract new consumers as recent launches of Signal toothpaste for males and Bic pens for women confirm. In this way, brands participate in gender differentiation and perpetuate traditional roles. But more than just a continuation, they also invent new kinds of differentiation. The distinction of gender by colours is quite new (Paoletti 2012). Babies used to be dressed in white at the beginning of the 20th century, but the need of categorisation, supposedly to help the consumer to find the right product, led to stores with rose areas for girls and blue areas for boys. Marketers go on building gender, more often without being aware of it.
Beyond these suggested areas of contribution, we welcome all kinds of submissions, both theoretical and empirical papers, that continue and extend the existing research on gender, marketing, and consumer behavior to advance knowledge of the gendered nature and dimensions of marketplace activity in its many forms and manifestations. For instance,
- Agendered consumption
- Evolution of gender roles along people’s life cycle
- Feminist theories of post-humanism and sociomateriality
- Gender and (multi-)ethnic families
- Gender and technology
- Gendered bodies
- Gender performative identity
- Gendered servicescapes
- Material-semiotics and gender (Actor-Network Theory and gender)
- Men and masculinities
- Practice-based theories of gender
- Queer theory
In addition to the longstanding community of scholars, we are eager to welcome doctoral candidates, junior scholars, and those starting to do gender research in marketing and consumer behavior. For special topics, we are also willing to welcome marketing practitioners as well as policy makers to join these sessions together with academics.