The Future Perfect Declined: Utopian Studies and Consumer Research
This interpretive study introduces the field of utopian studies and explores its relevance in re-conceptualising certain aspects of consumer research. Making reference to a longitudinal study carried out in a festival marketplace, this paper illustrates how the concept of utopia can yield rich insights into the consumer imagination in such an environment. It shows that utopianism is not just associated with impossible imaginings but rather that it has a crucial critical function enabling us to engage with and question reality. In particular, this critique was manifested in three major themes that emerged from the findings: consumer perceptions of the over-commercialisation of high street shopping; their fears over a loss of identity; and a nostalgic yearning for a return to tradition. The paper concludes by relocating the utopian impulse in the practices of everyday life, discussing how consumers may inscribe meanings into a space, meanings that were neither intended nor predicted by marketing management.