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Niklas Hansson

PhD ethnology

Centre for Consumer Science
PO Box 606
SE 405 30 Gothenburg
Visiting address: Viktoriagatan 13

+46 31 786 59 90


Digcon: Digitalizing consumer culture
Digcon (digitalized consumer culture) is an international interdisciplinary project and collaboration between the University of Gothenburg, Stockholm University and the University of Toulouse II (France) that aims to study digital market devices through the lens of the shaping of product markets and consumption practices. Mobile smartphone applications are becoming available in ethical consumption. Recently several labeling organizations have launched digitalized service applications to make it easier for consumers to find ethical products. For example, the social media initiative called Fair Trade Finder which works with Facebook, iPhone and Android, the “green guide app” and “shop gun app” that assist consumers concerned with environmental impact. New applications allow consumers to enter their location to find out where they can buy these products nearby, populate the map with other certified product locations and equip consumers with improved product information resources. Relevant statistics reports growing support for ethical products and consumer citizenship is becoming increasingly important as individuals seek to consider the impact of their purchasing choices on wider society and the environment at a time of high levels of distrust in business. Whether digitalization of ethical consumption changes this kind of consumer commitment and form of trust still remains an open question and addressed here. In this project I apply concepts and theory developed within the broader field of studies belonging to “economic anthropology” as developed in the work of Callon et al. (2007) and Cochoy (2007, 2008) to reveal the role of market devices in market coordination, the shaping of consumption, values, and products, and markets.

Re:heritage. Circulation and marketization of things with history
The aim of this project is to study how heritage is performed in the rapidly expanding second hand-, re-use- and vintage market in which small-scale entrepreneurs transform and re-configure objects with a history into marketable goods with heritage value. This we
call the re:heritage market. The project explores how the circulation of things on the re:heritage market involves a renegotiation of established heritage understandings, and puts at play conventional dichotomies between public and private, tangible and intangible, memory and history.

Consumer logistics
My approach for the study is actor-network theory, which I apply in analyzes of families with small children and their consumption, logistics, and the “container technologies” (e.g. bags) and the socio-technical mobility systems (e.g. public transport, pedestrian and cycling) used for the transport of goods from the store and home. Socio-cultural dimensions affect families’ with children consumption and are key analytical perspectives in the understanding of how and why mobility and consumption patterns look like they do today; and how they might change in the future. Future (sustainable) consumption logistics constitutes a "case study" in itself in my research and serves as an issue for discussing research findings with representatives of the business community, local government and politics, and thus deepen the relationship between scientific research and practitioners in the field.

(Sustainable) Urban Cultures: flea markets, second hand and consumer culture
From an urban culture perspective on sustainable cities and consumer culture I have studied street markets as sites of consumption, innovation, sociality, alternative economies, and sustainable urban culture. The purpose of the research is to present ethnographically/qualitative informed knowledge of markets and discuss the results within the framework of sustainable cultural densification in order to provide input into the role of culture for sustainable urbanity. I apply an interpretative ethnographic methodology and build analysis on street and flea markets theorised from an urban culture perspective. Focus is directed towards the relationship between markets, public life and urban culture. In this research I argue that (flea) markets have a role to play in building new sustainable cultures through forms of densification: bringing people and communities together, functioning as an alternative economy and motor for sustainable consumption, acting as a “community builder” that initiates civic activity and values, and a place to meet and learn about new cultures.

Theoretical interests

In actor network theory (ANT) ontological givens within much consumption theory such as consumer behavior and consumer subjects are “non-existent” because there are no ex ante actors existing outside of relations. For ANT no durable or finished consumer – or consumable consumer products - can exist without the patterned and formatting relations between people, objects and meanings that contribute to the construction of subjects. Similarly, actions are not performed by humans alone, and one of the central tenets of ANT is that action presupposes mobilization of human and non human entities. This is not equal to say that there are no consumers, but that networks of humans and non humans need to “do” their thing for consumer subjects or actors to be (hence the acronym of “actor-networks”). An ANT perspective on consumption discards metaphysics of (active) consuming subjects and (passive) consumed objects; such a divide obstructs other conceptions of consumption in theory.














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