I am an Associate Professor at the Medill School of Journalism, Media, Integrated Marketing Communications at Northwestern University. I have a Ph.D. in Marketing with a minor in Cultural Sociology.
Much of my research centers on socio-cultural aspects of consumption. Anthropologists Mary Douglas and Baron Isherwood wrote, “Goods are neutral, their uses are social; they can be used as fences or bridges.“ I analyze how people use consumption to create and span those fences and bridges, symbolic boundaries between different types of people. I study this through analysis of collective rituals where consumption plays a central role (like gift giving, Christmas celebrations, community festivals) and through the analysis of social class differences in consumption (particularly the role of experiential consumption amongst young adults). Currently, my research brings together my interests in symbolic boundaries, gift giving, and community by focusing on the social dynamics of consumer backed or “crowd funded” entrepreneurial businesses and the platforms that facilitate those dynamics.
In another stream of research, I study the role of various forms of marketing communications in creating meaning for stakeholders and consumers and the effects of these communications at the firm and societal levels.