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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 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:
The synchronous (live) sessions are highlighted.

Section 1: Framing Consumer Vulnerability

Class 1: 21st September 15.00-17.00, Live zoom session
              Class Welcome and Introducing Consumer Vulnerability

Class 2: Available online 27st September 
              Representations of Consumer Vulnerability

Class 3: Available online 4th October
              Marketplace Stigma

Class 4: 12th October 15.00-17.00, Live zoom session
              Case: Body Beautiful and Inclusivity in the Fashion Industry

Section 2: Contexts of Consumer Vulnerability

Class 5: Available online 18th October
              Consumer Poverty 1

Class 6: 26th October 15.00-17.00, Live zoom session
              Consumer Poverty 2

Class 7: Available online 1st November
              Vulnerability, Race and Ethnicity

Class 8: Available online 8th November
              Disability, Health and Well-being, “The Marketplace and I” case

Class 9: Available online 15th November
                Vulnerability and Age

Class 10: 23rd November 15-00-17.00, Live zoom session
                Discussion of Contexts of Vulnerability (including gender issues) and
                Case study (GWL)

Section 3: Consuming for Well-being

Class 11: Available online 29th November:
                Consumer Deceleration and Marketplace Tranquility 

Class 12: 7th December 15.00-17.00, Live zoom session: 
                Therapeutic consumption

Class 13: 14th December 9.00-13.00
               Group Presentations: each group will sign up for a time slot 

Class 14: 14th December 15.00-17.00
                Exam preparation and revision session

Learning methods
The course will be delivered 100% online and will include 50% asynchronous sessions and 50% synchronous (live) sessions. The asynchronous sessions will be based on a variety of online resources including pre-recorded lectures, links to relevant materials and online discussion forums. These will all be available through the iCorsi platform. The live synchronous sessions will be held virtually via zoom. These sessions will include group discussions, case studies, and the opportunity to discuss the class content and ask questions about the online materials. Please see the course content information above for details of the class schedule. The course director will also organize various drop-in sessions throughout the semester should you need to ask questions about the class.

Examination information
Assessment is based on both an individual written exam (60% of the final grade) and a group assignment (40%). 

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.

Docente titolare del corso

Offerta formativa