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Consumer Vulnerability and Well-being


Course objectives

  • Exploring the link between the marketplace and individual/societal well-being
  • Understanding the interdependence of power, marketing decisions, market (de)stigmatisation, and social justice.
  • Addressing contexts of consumer vulnerability, associated with specific consumer socio-demographic traits, life stages, and experiences.
  • Exploring business opportunities and logics in the arenas of consumer vulnerability and well-being.


Course description
The Course will broaden our understanding of consumption by drawing attention to consumers who are typically overlooked in mainstream marketing. It acknowledges the state of consumer vulnerability that a variety of people experience—either temporarily or more steadily—for a plethora of reasons. It posits that our societies have developed an often-untold condition of economic citizenship, which is far from being democratically shared across consumers.
Participants will become familiar with the idea that market agents (e.g. associations, companies, consumers, media, policy makers), marketplaces (on-line and off-line exchange places), and goods (products, services, experiences as well as the way of consuming them) concur in the marginalisation and stigmatisation of certain individuals to the advantage of others. They will also sharpen understanding about the role of marketing decisions in the (de)construction of consumer vulnerability, alongside challenging common myths and stereotypes that persist about such groups.

Course content:
Section 1: Framing Consumer Vulnerability

Available online 14th September: Introducing Consumer Vulnerability
Available online 21st September: Representations of Vulnerability
Available online 28th September: Marketplace Stigma

In-person 15th October: Case: Body Beautiful and Inclusivity in the Fashion Industry
The Arts Market: Transformative Representations and Overcoming Stigma

Section 2: Contexts of Consumer Vulnerability

In-person 16th October: Consumer Poverty

Available online 26th October: Vulnerability and Age 
Available online 2nd November: Vulnerability, Race and Ethnicity
Available online 9th November: Disability, Health and Well-being

Section 3: Consuming for Well-being

Available online 16th November: Consuming Wellness

In-person 26th November: Therapeutic consumption
In-person 27th November: Group Presentations

Learning methods
The course adopts a blended learning approach with 50% online and 50% in-person. The online resources (e.g. recorded lecturers, links, activities) will be available through the iCorsi platform. The in-person classes are on 15-16 October and 26-27 November (as long as the pandemic conditions allow). During these sessions, there will be the opportunity to ask questions about the online materials.

Examination information
Assessment is based on both an individual written exam (50% of the final grade) and a group assignment (50%).
Detailed evaluation criteria are set at the beginning of the course.

Required material
One of the main resources for this class is the following edited book:

Hamilton, Kathy, Susan Dunnett, and Maria Piacentini (2016) (eds.), Consumer Vulnerability: Conditions, Contexts and Characteristics, Abingdon and New York: Routledge.

This is supplemented by several articles related to each of the topics. These are provided on the reading list.



Hamilton K.

Course director

Corengia M.


Additional information

Academic year