Academic journal article The Journal of Consumer Affairs

Fifty Years of Consumer Issues in the Journal of Consumer Affairs

Academic journal article The Journal of Consumer Affairs

Fifty Years of Consumer Issues in the Journal of Consumer Affairs

Article excerpt

This article is the Guest Editor's introduction to the virtual issue to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Journal of Consumer Affairs UCA) published on the journal website in the summer of 2016. The virtual issue highlights the research published during JCA's first 50 years and includes 20 articles that reported on consumer issues which are still relevant today. The evolution of research topics over the 50 years shows that consumer issues have evolved from handling and resolving complaints to information search, decision making, consumer fraud, debt profiles, a hierarchy of saving needs, welfare reform, diffusion of innovations, identity theft, financial literacy, and health care reform. The 2010 creation of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau can be seen as a capstone for the consumer movement. What will the next 50 years bring? We can assume that JCA will continue to be a leader in providing research on consumers and their issues.

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On November 5, 1952, Colston Warne wrote to Ray Price and Henry Harap to ask if they would be interested in launching a consumer education association. Following a meeting of the three men in Chicago, 29 leading consumer educators were invited to a planning session at the University of Minnesota in 1953. The organizing group of 21 who responded to the invitation consisted primarily of college and university professors. Consumers Union made a grant of $7,000, which enabled the planning group to recruit members, publish a newsletter, and organize an annual conference. The first annual conference of the organization which became the American Council on Consumer Interests (ACCI) was held in Dayton, Ohio in April 1955. In July 1954, the association had 70 members. Eighteen months later, ACCI had 332 members (Harap 1981; This is ACCI 1992).

In 1967 ACCI established Journal of Consumer Affairs, the first peer-reviewed, academic journal devoted to consumer interests, with Gordon E. Bivens as its founding first editor. In the first issue. Bivens said the journal should report consumer-focused research and serve as a forum on consumer issues. In a more detailed statement, he wrote: "The Journal recognizes as one of its prime functions that of making available the research findings of a number of disciplines which have a major thrust toward understanding the consumer, his behavior, and the implications of his economic, social, legal, and political environment" (Bivens 1967, 5).

There were four editorial changes in the journal from 1975 to 1984. The four editors appointed were: Joseph N. Uhl in 1974. Robert O. Herrmann in 1977, Monroe Friedman in 1980, and David Eastwood in 1984. There were another four editorial changes between 1984 and 2011. The four Editors were: David Eastwood, 1984 to 1990; Carole Makela, 1990 to 1997; Claudia J. Peck-Heath, 1997 to 2001; and Herbert J. Rotfeld, 2002 to 2011. Sharon Tennyson assumed the role of Editor in 2011. Sharon is ably assisted by four Associate Editors, an Editorial Assistant, a Journal of Consumer Affairs (JCA) Advisory Board, and an Editorial Review Board. Publishing in The Journal of Consumer Affairs is highly regarded and there are many submissions to the journal.

There are many excellent publications that report on important people, events and milestones in the consumer movement including: the Encyclopedia of the Consumer Movement (Brobeck, Mayer, and Herrmann 1997) and Watchdogs and Whistle Blowers: A Reference Guide to Consumer Activism (Brobeck and Mayer 2015). The reader is encouraged to consult these books for an in-depth survey of the issues that propelled the consumer movement.

The reader is also referred to two articles reviewing publication trends in Journal of Consumer Affairs. In the first article, Geistfeld and Key (1986) undertook a content analysis of articles published in the Journal of Consumer Affairs from 1975 to 1984. Geistfeld and Key reviewed 211 articles. Over the 10-year period, one-fourth of all articles had focused on market structure and operation, one-fifth had addressed policy related issues, and one-eighth had examined decision making and search. …

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