Using Content Analysis to Understand the Consumer Movement

By Smith, Darlene Brannigan; Bloom, Paul N. | The Journal of Consumer Affairs, Winter 1989 | Go to article overview

Using Content Analysis to Understand the Consumer Movement


Smith, Darlene Brannigan, Bloom, Paul N., The Journal of Consumer Affairs


Using Content Analysis to Understand the Consumer Movement

Although the consumer movement has been a topic of continuing interest to many consumer researchers, the movement has been the focus of little empirical research. Social movements are not easy phenomena to study using empirical approaches, and the result has been that much of the writing about the consumer movement has been either conceptual or journalistic. The few relevant empirical studies have consisted primarily of surveys designed to examine aspects of consumer discontent in the United States. This kind of research can add only limited insights to our understanding of the consumer movement. One research approach that has been used in sociology to study social movements is content analysis (Jenkins and Perrow 1977; Perrow 1979), and this type of analysis is used here to examine the dynamics of the consumer movement over a fourteen-year period.

PREVIOUS RESEARCH ON THE CONSUMER MOVEMENT

The consumer movement has been described as the "evolving activities of government, business, independent organizations, and concerned consumers undertaken to protect and enhance the rights of consumers" (Aaker and Day 1978, p. 2). In the United States over the last thirty years, the consumer movement has collectively organized and acted to obtain safer products, better complaint-handling mechanisms, less deceptive advertising, more consumer education, improvements in repair services and product warranties, and numerous other reforms. It would be hard to argue that the consumer movement had little to do with the many new laws, regulations, and business practices adopted over this thirty-year time period.

Much has been written in the attempt to describe, to explain, and to predict the actions of the consumer movement. As mentioned earlier, the majority of this writing has been conceptual and/or journalistic in style. Authors from a wide variety of disciplines and backgrounds have provided interpretations of the meaning and implications of the demonstrations, boycotts, legislative debates, lawsuits, fund-raising drives, and other actions emanating from the consumer movement. For the most part, these authors have formulated their interpretations based on media reports about the movement, discussions with consumer advocates, involvement with consumer groups, records of court and legislative developments, and some ideas from sociological and political theory (Mitchell 1982; Leonard 1982; Clark 1980; Handler 1978; Herrmann 1974; Greyser 1973; Kotler 1972).

The empirical work related to the consumer movement tends to be very limited in its focus. Most of it seeks either (1) to describe the characteristics of consumers who are dissatisfied or who exhibit "consumerist" attitudes and behaviors or (2) to explain the cause of dissatisfaction and "consumerist" attitudes and behaviors. Through this research, much has been learned about who feels dissatisfied (Warland, Herrmann, and Willits 1972), who favors consumer protection legislation (Harris 1983; Sentry 1977), who likes the work of Ralph Nader and other consumer advocates (Barksdale and Perreault 1980), who thinks business cares about consumers (Darden, Stanley, and Howell 1982), who engages in forms of consumer and citizen activism (Warland, Herrmann, and Moore 1982), and why dissatisfaction develops (Deshpande and Krishman 1982; Richins 1982). In addition, much of what consumers think and feel about consumer problems has remained reasonably stable for more than a decade (Gaski and Etzel 1982; Greyser, Bloom, and Diamond 1982; Bloom and Greyser 1981). These studies conclude that consumer discontent remains high, that buyer dissatisfaction is widespread, and that the major areas of consumer discontent have not changed substantially in the 1970s and 1980s.

In spite of the relatively stable and favorable thoughts and feelings about the consumer movement, the movement as a whole has had relatively dramatic ups and downs in terms of achieving desired reforms. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Using Content Analysis to Understand the Consumer Movement
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.