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  Consumers' emotion work

   Faculty of Business and Law

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  Dr Karen Middleton, Dr Sarah Turnbull  Applications accepted all year round  Self-Funded PhD Students Only

About the Project

Applications are invited for a self-funded, 3 year full-time or 6 year part-time PhD project.

The PhD will be based in the Marketing subject group and will be supervised by Dr Karen Middleton and Dr Sarah Turnbull.

The work on this project will:

  • A systematic literature review to identify the factors that influence and drive consumers’ marketplace emotion work.
  • A mixed-method approach – including qualitative and quantitative methods - to understand how consumers’ work may effect change by brands, organisations and in the market.
  • The identification of recommendations for practical approaches that can assist brands and organisations to better understand the power of consumers’ work, especially in social media.
  • A potential interdisciplinary collaboration with different departments of the University of Portsmouth.

Project description

Through institutional work, individual and collective actors are able to create, maintain, or disrupt established practices in the marketplace. Especially in relation to contentious moral, emotional or values-based marketplace issues, consumers are increasingly able to put pressure on brands and organisations to change their practices, sometimes appropriating the goals of wider social movements in doing so (Lillqvist, Moisander & Firat, 2018, McCarthy & Glozer, 2021; Valor, Lloveras, & Papaoikonomou, 2021). Nevertheless, while consumers may work together towards desired change in the marketplace, they may require and expend significant emotional energy. This project will examine the mechanisms that enable consumers’ emotion work and explore the social justice marketplace contexts that moderate the efficacy of such work.

Markets are influenced by complex relational processes and interplay between market actors who may include brands, firms, consumers and other stakeholders. Emerging research highlights how collective desire for change by groups of actors can lead to disruption in the marketplace (Baker & Nenonen, 2020). There is already broad understanding in marketing of how factors like culture, economics or technology can bring about change in the marketplace. However, there is growing research interest in the market shaping mechanisms of other market groups, for example brands themselves, ethnic groups or lobbyists; and in the consumer actions that influence market change (Baker, Storbacka & Brodie, 2019). 

While there is more pressure on organisations to strategically align their own market goals with the interests of multiple stakeholders (Hult, 2011), consumers are likewise increasingly concerned about the social, economic and environmental responsibilities of brands and corporations. Social media has allowed users to create their own public content, which can be used to challenge and respond to elites, leaders and organisations. Moreover, it can provide a channel for the amplification and organisation of consumer discontent with marketplace institutions (McCarthy & Glozer, 2021). As brands and organizations are called upon by stakeholders and consumers to be more responsible for the problems in society, more understanding is needed of how consumers may be able to influence and shape markets. 

General admissions criteria

You'll need a good first degree from an internationally recognised university (minimum upper second class or equivalent, depending on your chosen course) or a Master’s degree in Marketing or a related area. In exceptional cases, we may consider equivalent professional experience and/or Qualifications. English language proficiency at a minimum of IELTS band 6.5 with no component score below 6.0.

How to Apply

We’d encourage you to contact Dr Karen Middleton ([Email Address Removed]) or Dr Sarah Turnbull ([Email Address Removed])  to discuss your interest before you apply, quoting the project code.

When you are ready to apply, please follow the 'Apply now' link on the Marketing PhD subject area page and select the link for the relevant intake. Make sure you submit a personal statement, proof of your degrees and grades, details of two referees, proof of your English language proficiency and an up-to-date CV.  Our ‘How to Apply’ page offers further guidance on the PhD application process. 

Please also include a research proposal of 1,000 words outlining the main features of your proposed research design – including how it meets the stated objectives, the challenges this project may present, and how the work will build on or challenge existing research in the above field. 

When applying please quote project code: MKTG4831021

Business & Management (5)

Funding Notes

Self-funded PhD students only.
Please for tuition fee information and discounts.


Baker, J. J., & Nenonen, S. (2020). Collaborating to shape markets: Emergent collective market work. Industrial Marketing Management, 85, 240-253.
Baker, J. J., Storbacka, K., & Brodie, R. J. (2019). Markets changing, changing markets: Institutional work as market shaping. Marketing Theory, 19(3), 301-328.
Hult, T. (2011) Market-focused sustainability: market orientation plus! Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science, 39,1-6.
Lillqvist, E., Moisander, J. K., & Firat, A. F. (2018). Consumers as legitimating agents: How consumer‐citizens challenge marketer legitimacy on social media. International Journal of Consumer Studies, 42(2), 197-204.
McCarthy, L., & Glozer, S. (2021). Heart, Mind and Body:# NoMorePage3 and the Replenishment of Emotional Energy. Organization Studies. 1-26. Https://
Valor, C., Lloveras, J., & Papaoikonomou, E. (2021). The role of emotion discourse and pathic stigma in the delegitimization of consumer practices. Journal of Consumer Research, 47(5), 636-653.
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