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Completed projects

CCR is a meeting place for researchers from different disciplines. By working together in interdisciplinary teams a more balanced, profound, and deeper understanding of consumption can be reached. Read more about our completed research projects below.

Completed research projects:

> Beauty comes from within
> Capturing the elusive simplifier
> Children as co-researchers of foodscapes, BAMM
> Children, food and health
> Children’s lifestyles and the obesity epidemic, CLOE
> Clothes and fashion
> Consumer culture in an age of anxiety
> Consumer images in market communication
> Consuming a home
> Commercial culture in an ethnological and economical perspective
> Currency change and the consumer
> Design and gender
> E-cinema: digital house as a space of experiences
> Energy in transition II
> Food and body in everyday life - sociocultural perspectives
> From celluloid to pixels.
> From consumer to critical consumer
> Global Survey on Sustainable Lifestyles
> Household metabolism
> Is size large really large?
> Managing overflow
> Nordic children as economic actors
> Nordic children's food arenas
> Nordic Young Health
> Product bundle
> Something old, something new - to create ones wedding
> Social sustainability from a consumer perspective
> The branded body
> The consumer and the conglomerate
> The discourse about children in two Swedish magazines
> The food and the school
> The decorated male
> The good meal
> The importance of self- and other-signaling
> The meaning of consumption and consumers relations to artefacts
> The multidimensional food consumer. Values and behaviours of consumers 55+.
> The role of the car for the well being of people in the modern life
> The stock market, retirement plans and the choice of portfolios
> The (un)sustainable package
> Universal design
> Young consumers
> Young consumers and brands
> Young consumers' creditbased lifestyles and payment problems

Project descriptions:

Children’s lifestyles and the obesity epidemic, CLOE

The project is part of the multidisciplinary research programme Children's lifestyles and the obesity epidemic, placed at Institute of medicine, General medicine and public health at Göteborg University. The programme aims at developing methods for interventions to reduce overweight and obesity among children.

CFK:s part of the programme is a qualitative study of children's and parents attitudes concerning food and health. 12 families with children aged 5-9 participated. The aim is to reach a deeper understanding of everyday life in regard to food and of parents' and children's thoughts and opinions of food and health. The researchers visited each family three times and carried out interviews. The parents took photos of their foodscapes and saved receipts and the children made collages and drawings.

Particpating researchers from CFK:
Barbro Johansson, associate professor ethnology
Eva Ossiansson, researcher business administration

Funded by FAS and Swedish Research Council 2007-2012

The (un)sustainable package
Packaging has become ever more important as a marketing tool for consumerism. The dilemma of packaging is characteristic of the consumer society, since marketing is dependent on attractive packaging but the waste problem belongs to an unsustainable lifestyle that can no longer be ignored.

The research project "The (un)sustainable package" deals with pressing questions in the field of packaging design, with economic, aesthetic, technical and environmental implications. Why do packages look and function as they do? What part do packages play in development towards a sustainable society? The approach is interdisciplinary with contributions from the arts, social sciences and technology. Three subsections of the project deal with the Swedish consumer package from the history of design perspective, the seductive potential of the package seen in a gender perspective and an analysis of design strategies for ecological food packaging.

"The Packaging Patrol" is a parallel project. Participants will cooperate, using their respective competences to study concrete objects at close hand. Methods include archival studies, visual analysis, consumer interviews and field studies. The guiding theory is Latour's actor-network theory (ANT).

The project "The (un)sustainable package" is based at HDK - the School of Design and Crafts at the University of Gothenburg. Lasse Brunnström is project leader. The other participating researchers are Karin Wagner at IT-universitetet, Magdalena Petersson at CFK - Centrum för Konsumtionsvetenskap and tekn.dr Annika Olsson at Förpackningslogistik vid Institutionen för designvetenskaper, LTH, Lunds universitet.

Participating researcher from CFK:
Magdalena Petersson McIntyre, PhD ethnology

Funded by Riksbankens Jubileumsfond and Vetenskapsrådet 2009-2011

Consumer culture in an age of anxiety

Consumer culture in an age of anxiety, Conanx, will investigate consumer anxieties about food at a variety of geographical scales from the global scale of international food markets to the domestic scale of individual households. Conanx is led by Professor Peter Jackson at University of Sheffield. There are five work packages in the programme. Researchers from CFK participate, together with researchers from University of Sheffield, in work package 4: Consumer understandings of risk, anxiety and trust.

Consumer anxiety around food has been prompted by a series of recent 'food scares' from salmonella and e.coli to BSE (bovine spongiform encephalopathy) and human-variant CJD. Food producers and retailers have struggled to retain consumer confidence in food safety and quality, introducing a variety of technocratic responses to manage risk and reduce the hazards associated with modern methods of intensive farming and food production.

This work package consist of case studies that will use focus groups and interviews with consumers in Britain and Sweden to explore how consumer practices and attitudes to food are shaped by recent 'food scares' and associated public health campaigns. We shall investigate how consumers express their anxieties around food and in whom they place their trust. We will interview key players in a range of NGOs and campaign organisations who have sought to improve consumer understanding of food safety. The research will be conducted in Göteborg in Sweden and in London and Sheffield in the UK. The research will use newspaper and government archives to investigate the national context of recent food scares and to explore the public response to these issues.

Conanx is led by Professor Peter Jackson, with co-investigators in Sheffield (Dr Matt Watson) and Sweden (Professor Helene Brembeck) and with a team of researchers based in ICoSS, the University of Sheffield´s Interdisciplinary Centre of the Social Sciences, and at the Centre for Consumer Science (CFK) in Göteborg. Conanx homepage

Participating researchers from Centre for Consumer Science:
Helene Brembeck, professor ethnology
Jakob Wenzer, PhD ethnology
Maria Fuentes, PhD business administration

Funded by the European Research Council 2009-2012

Managing overflow

"Managing Overflow" is a transdisciplinary research program, in which a combined team of ethnologists and management scholars proposes to explore examples of the complex phenomena in contemporary western societies gathered under an ambiguous label of overflow.

Overflow can be interpreted in terms of affluence and surplus, or wastefulness and overload. As a metaphor, overflow is a morally charged term, which implicitly signals development and directionality, at the same time alluding to the existence of some perceived point of equilibrium, balance or normality. It denotes a movement between different states and a transgression of borders.

This research program aims at exploring the tensions between these meanings, and the ethical, economic, and aesthetic consequences they have in everyday life and work. While firmly grounded in field studies, the program aims at constructing a theoretical frame of reference adequate for grasping the multiple variations of this phenomenon. We suggest an approach that will take temperature of both dramatic and mundane processes. Contrasting cases will be used to examine many of the taken-for-granted notions, and a historical perspective will assure a dynamic take on the phenomenon. Knowledge thus produced will be useful both to scholars and to a generally interested audience.

Program director: Professor Barbara Czarniawska , Gothenburg Research Institute at University of Gothenburg.

The program consists of six studies where of three will be carried out by researchers from the Centre for Consumer Science:
• Growing up in abundance. Managing childhood and parenthood. Helene Brembeck , professor ethnology
• Managing (over)flows in the health care sector. Lars Norén, associate professor business administration
• Can there be an overflow in music industry? Jakob Wenzer, Phd ethnology

The other studies are:
• News factories. Barbara Czarniawska
• Overflow meets scarcity; journalism meets business. Elena Raviola
• Embarras de richesse? Change of wealthy consumers' lives in a welfare state. Karin M. Ekström

More information is available at the program's homepage

Funded by Jan Wallanders and Tom Hedelius stiftelse 2010-2012


Clothes and fashion
In this research project, fashion is studied from an historical perspective and the focus is on the economic aspects: How did the Swedish garment industry work with fashion during the second half of the 20th century? What strategies were used in relation to the opportunities of the growing market and the threats posed by the ever more hardening competition?

The aim of the project is to give an encompassing picture of the processes behind the developments which changed the industry from being a manufacturing one to an industry based upon the production of know-how. Even though practically no production remains in Sweden, knowledge of distribution and production continues to be central parts of a very vigorous sector.

Knowledge of fashion has become a central part of innovation and product development, being the source of most of the value creation in the industry. The traditional view is that the decline of Swedish production was caused by high wage costs during the post war period. In the project, a rather different hypothesis is applied: the situation was made worse by the emphasis that was put upon capital intensive solutions, which led to a relative neglect of questions that regarded fashion.

Participating researchers:

Carina Gråbacke, Associate professor economic history
Christofer Pihl, assistant researcher

Funded by Torsten och Ragnar Söderbergs stiftelser 2009-2011

Children, food and health. Exploring children's foodscapes with children as co-researchers

Children's food habits are generated in a diversity of arenas. This includes material settings such as school, the family home, food stores, restaurants and places where the children do sports or leisure activities. It also involves arenas where children get in touch with different messages and offers regarding food, such as advertisements or in media reports concerning food. Children also have many different values to relate to expressed by family and friends as well as marketing and governmental recommendations. These messages and values are also found in the places where children eat, so the boundaries between these arenas are almost non-existing. Together places and ideas comprise the children's foodscapes. Although children are able to make a change, this doesn't mean that they are always allowed to do so.

The main purpose of the PhD project is to increase the knowledge of children's foodscapes with children as co-researchers and to make visible and explore the relations of power that forms the reality of children. The power relations are also connected to categories such as generation, class, gender and ethnicity. What do children's foodscapes look like and what sort of messages do they meet there? Where do children place themselves in the power relations concerning food?

The methods include children as co-researchers. In the project children are seen as capable of understanding and exploring their surroundings. The participating children in the project are between the ages 10-12. They are going to explore and document their own foodscapes, by taking an active part in the fieldwork. This could be done by them taking photos, keeping a food diary, blogging, drawing pictures, doing interviews etc. Sandra will make her own parallel observations alongside with the children.

Participating researcher:
Sandra Hillén, PhD student etnology

The project is one of 14 PhD-projects that participate in the Graduate School of Environment and Health and is funded by University of Gothenburg, Chalmers University of Technology and Västra Götaland Region 2009-2012.

Children as co-researchers of foodscapes, BAMM
The project has been popularized in Swedish to Barn som medforskare av matlandskap, BAMM (Children as co-researchers of food-scapes). The overall purpose is, with the active participation of children as co-researchers and co-designers, to compare the different food-related offerings and messages children encounter at different arenas with their preferences regarding food, to, still in active participation with the children, design and implement interventions aiming at influencing children's food habits in a more sustainable direction, and to work out models for healthy food habits. The main points of departure are: that children's values and behavior regarding food are generated at various arenas - the home, in school, among friends, in the shop, in media etc. - requiring an interdisciplinary research effort; that children are active beings with opinions and interests; that children are able to take an active part in changing their environment, given means and opportunities. Important theoretical tools are health promotion, empowerment, participation and children as co-researchers and co-designers. The project combines theories from Childhood studies and health promotion with Actor network theory (ANT). School children aged ten from a small community just outside Göteborg will take part in the study. The children will take part in every step of the research process: by identifying the various food offerings they encounter, by taking part in analyzing the data and by participating in creating solutions.

Participating researchers:
Helene Brembeck, Professor ethnology (project leader)
Barbro Johansson, Associate professor ethnology
Eva Ossiansson, PhD business administration
Helena Shanahan, Professor home economics
MariAnne Karlsson, Professor
Lena Jonsson, PhD home economics
Pontus Engelbrektsson, Doctor of Technology
Kerstin Bergström, Licentiate home economics

Funded by Formas 2008-2010

Young consumers and brands

The overall purpose of this project is to achieve better understanding regarding young consumers and their beliefs about brands. Also social uses of and relationships toward brands are of great interest. Inspired by ethnographic methods the research is expected to contribute with greater understanding about how those relations are manifested in consumption. With young consumers is meant adolescent consumers. The study will furthermore, to a limited extent, investigate how creators at advertising agencies imagine young consumers and their relationships to brands. One purpose with this part of the study is to examine what methods are being used within the advertising agencies to better understand this target group. Hence, it will be of interest to make in depth interviews with a limited amount of people that have been involved in creating advertising for young consumers.

Participating researcher
PhD student, Marcus Gianneschi, business administration

Funded by Torsten och Ragnar Söderberg foundations

Food and body in everyday life - sociocultural perspectives

The aims of the project are to establish joint Nordic research training, to coordinate and strengthen Nordic research that explores food and body from a socio-cultural perspective, and to support future research collaboration.The network will help sustain scientific quality, integration and sustainability of research training.

Main activities include joint Ph.D. courses/seminars with visits by international experts, international workshop in 2010, planning of future research collaboration as well as a homepage. The network will have a multidisciplinary approach and will in addition to supporting research training make the research area more cohesive and visible for researchers, policy makers, stakeholders and business within and outside the Nordic countries.

Gun Roos at SIFO in Norway is project leader. The other participants come from CFK, Oslo university, National Public Health Institute och National Consumer Research Centre in Finland and Copenhagen University.

Participating researchers from CFK:
Associate professor Barbro Johansson, ethnology
Professor Helene Brembeck, ethnology
PhD student Sandra Hillén, ethnology

Funded by Nordforsk 2007-2010

Consumer images in market communication - a study of 55 consumers and ageism
In a time when lifestyles and identities are increasingly expressed through consumption what happens with those consumers who are excluded by market communication due to ageism?

The overall research questions are: (1) what images of older consumers are mediated through media and used in market communication, and (2) how are these images experienced by consumers within the market segment 55 . The aim is to provide a more nuanced picture of today's 55 consumers and problematize the concept of age and ageing. Market communication should reflect changing consumer behaviour due to societal changes like demographics etc. Still, youthfulness is glorified and sanctioned which link terms like "young" and "elderly" to value-charged connotations. Age and market communication is a delicate matter and it is important to critically question prevailing norms and practice within marketing to try and counteract ageism. It is not obvious how market communication addressing 55 consumers should be designed to be successful as consumers relate to their age and ageing differently. Methodologically, a qualitative research is used influenced by ethnography and visual interpretation is performed to reveal existing concepts of age presented in market communication.

Participating researcher:
Lena Hansson, PhD Business administration

The project was carried out within a postdoc position funded by University of Gothenburg 2008-2009

Nordic Young Health

It has been said that "today's junk food generation can't see beyond the burger box". It is, however, a paradox that despite the increasing consumption rates of unhealthy fast food, young people report trying to avoid eating unhealthy. This indicates a fast food market with untapped potential when it comes to offering healthier options. The YoungHealth network¿s point of departure is that people today, and youth in particular, would eat healthier if they had easier access to affordable healthy food options in the public sphere. A major public health threat in today's Nordic societies is the increasing rates of overweight and obesity, especially among children and the young. The fast food sector, which constitutes a main site where young people eat outside the home, is thus an important arena to study in order to open up for changes in this trend. By establishing cooperation between consumer research institutions, authorities and businesses, the Nordic YoungHealth network aims to produce new knowledge on the personal, socio-economic and structural determinants influencing Nordic youths' food practices and preferences in the fast food sector. The aim is to translate this new consumer knowledge into innovative concepts that can lead to better fast food products and menus, and, secondly, to stimulate effective policies which can make healthier choices more easily available for young people.

Download the project report "Nordic Young Health - Possibilities and barriers for new, healthy concepts in the fast food sector"

Project leader: Kjersti Lillebø at SIFO in Norway. The other project participants come from CFK, National Consumer Research Centre (NCRC) in Finland, National Food Institute in Denmark; Nofima MatAS in Norway and Landspitali-UniversityHospital,University of Iceland &Unit for Nutrition Research.

Participating researcher from CFK:
Helene Brembeck, professor ethnology
Jakob Wenzer, PhD etnology

Funded by Nordisk InnovationsCenter 2009-2010  


Beauty comes from within
- Looking good as a challenge in health promotion

The aim of the project is to improve understanding of how discourses on health, consumption and well-being use, interpret and attach importance to appearance and looking good. Specific research questions are:
• How do the current norms of beauty come into play in discourses on health promotion?
• How does the focus on health promoting lifestyle and the bodies associated with this type of lifestyle affect those living with an appearance that deviates (a little or a lot) from the ideal?
• How and by whom are the dilemmas and paradoxes of health promotion handled?

Researchers representing various disciplines and institutions experienced in research on consumption, clothes, food, exercise and the body in Norway and Sweden are included. The project has a theoretical foundation in phenomenological and constructionist views on the body and body-related consumption. Three institutions are particpating: SIFO in Norway; Institute of Nursing and Health Science (UIO) in Norway and CFK. The project is led by Professor Ingun Grimstad Klepp, SIFO.

Participating researchers from CFK :
Professor Helene Brembeck (in charge of Swedish part), ethnology
Associate Professor Barbro Johansson, ethnology
PhD Magdalena Petersson McIntyre, ethnology
PhD Viveka Berggren-Torell, ethnology

Funded by the Norwegian Research Council 2008-2010



Household metabolism

Households contribute 60-80% of national emissions of greenhouse gases once total lifecycle impacts of all products and services used are considered. Previous attempts to model the indirect impacts of household consumption patterns have several short-comings. These include low transparency; not being demand driven and not based on standardized statistics; and excluding emission intensities from exporting countries. Experiments with households have been limited and incomplete and thus difficult to draw general conclusions about effects of policy packages and potential systems effects.

The project aims to create the best possible modeling tool for household metabolism based on past experiences focusing on indirect impacts. Through a pilot-experiment with households, its potential for education and impacts on consumption and spending patterns will be considered. The tool and results from the experiments will be presented to stakeholders in the supply chain and together with them explore possible systems effects. This will shed light on how a concerted action to shape everyday decisions at the household level would affect the entire economy. The project will be carried out over 3 years. The team will be composed of researchers from CFK and from Industrial Ecology at the Royal Institute of Technology, Stockholm, with substantial previous experience of modeling and systems analysis, action research and future studies.

Participating researchers from CFK:
Helena Shanahan, Professor home economics, CFK
Helene Wåhlander, lecturer home economics, CFK
Lars Olsson, PhD psychology, CFK

Participating researchers from Royal Institute of Technology:
Björn Frostell (Project coordinator), Ass. Professor Industrial Ecology, Royal Institute of Technology (KTH)
Getachew Assefa, Dr. Industrial Ecology, KTH

Funded by Formas 2007-2009


Global Survey on Sustainable Lifestyles
Centre for Consumer Science takes part in the accomplishment of the global survey "How do we live around the world?". The survey is a joint initiative of the Swedish Task Force on Sustainable Lifestyles and UNEP, and is part of the Marrakech Process. The purpose of the study is to find tools and measures for each region how to change unsustainable consumption and lifestyle patterns.

The survey addresses people aged 18 to 35. The results from the survey will increase the knowledge about how young adults from different cultures around the world live today and about their visions for the future. The University of Kalmar together with the Centre for Consumer Science have promoted the internet based survey in Sweden. The Centre is responsible for analyzing and compilation of the Swedish results.

The results will be fed into other environment projects carried out by the United Nations and into a programme for sustainable consumption and production that will be presented at Commission on Sustainable Development 2010. Read more about Sustainable Lifestyles run by United Nations Environment Programme on their homepage

Participating researchers from Centre for Consumer Science:
Niklas Hansson, researcher ethnology
Ulrika Holmberg, researcher business administration

Funded by The School of Business, Economics and Law and Region Västra Götaland, two full-time months in 2009.

Consuming a home - a study of housing and interior decoration from a consumption perspective

The purpose of this project is to study consumption of the home, i.e. how consumers negotiate needs and wants when creating and maintaining a home and how this process integrates with management of household finances. Hence, the focus is placed on the intersection of material and financial aspects of a home, i.e. the process where people's dreams and ideas of a good life are put into play and take material form. The use of consumer credits is in particular focus. Key issues are the home, materiality, identity, and household financial management. The means of research will be ethnographic.

Participating researcher
PhD student Maria Brodin, business administration

Funded by Sparbankernas forskningsstiftelse 2004-2007 and by the Department of Business Administration at School of Business, Economics and Law 2008.

The consumer and the conglomerate

There is a new trend both in Sweden and internationally where companies in a consumer markets expand their original core business with retail banking services and hence form what we call conglomerates. In Sweden two major retailers (Ikea and Ica) and two main insurance companies (Länsförsäkringar and Skandia) have all opened their own internet based banks: Ikano bank, Icabanken, Länsförsäkringar bank and Skandiabanken respectively. By so doing the aim for these companies is to get a large share of consumers share of wallet and to improve their profitability. Another question is do consumers benefit of this trend and do they want to concentrate their affairs to fewer and larger companies?

The aim of our project is to investigate how consumers perceive this phenomenon and how they perceive their relationships to these companies. We are especially interested to explore what would be the economic, social and ethical aspects/consequences for consumers when they have a relationship to these companies and their newly build banks. We will conduct a survey and ask 1500 inhabitants in Sweden to give answers to our research questions. The project is expected to be finished by August 2008.

Particating researchers:
Merja Mankila, PhD business administration
Ulrika Holmberg, PhD business administration

Funded by Stiftelsen för ekonomisk forskning i Västsverige 2007-2008.


Social sustainability from a consumer perspective

The project aims to study consumers' experience of their housing environment from a social sustainability perspective. The study focuses on consumers choosing and living in so called 55+ housing or senior housing. How the design of the housing lives up to the consumers' requirements of comfort and control as well as their possibilities to remain independent affects their quality of life and in the long run the need of social services. Design is thus an important factor to reach social sustainability.

Participating researcher
PhD Lena Hansson, business administration

Funded by Adlerbertska Forskningsstiftelsen 2007


The importance of self- and other-signaling

A deeper knowledge of the relationship between behavior and effectiveness in environmental policies is urgently needed. An overall research question is: Can willingness to choose environmentally friendly products be influenced by enforcing and/or inhibiting moral and social values when these values are in conflict with economic goals? Pro-environmental purchase decisions may not only be determined by economic goals, but also by how people communicate moral and social responsibility to themselves and to others. Such communication has been labeled self-signaling and other-signaling. It is essential to determine the importance of these goals and to find ways reduce possible conflicts between them. The aim of this project is to conduct a "wind-tunnel" experiment as a first step to understand the importance of self- and other-signaling.

Participating researcher:
Ph D Lars E. Olsson , psychology

Funded by The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences 2008


The role of the car for the well being of people in the modern life

The project started in September 2006 and will run until the end of 2008. Financially the project is supported by Bisek (www.bisek.se), a research foundation backed by the Norwegian and Swedish Road Administrations and Vinnova (the Swedish Agency for Innovation Systems) together with a number of Swedish motorists' organisations, Bil Sweden - MRF and the Swedish insurance company Folksam.

The overall aim of this project is to increase the theoretical understanding of the car's instrumental, social, symbolic, and affective meaning. This project will thus analyze the interactions between, on the one hand, travel needs and access to a car and, on the other, travel and activity patterns, and the subjective well-being of individuals and households. An extensive questionnaire and analysis of national travel data, as well as a travel diary for the Gothenburg region are the methods that will be used. Households living in large cities, smaller towns and in rural areas, with both one and several cars will be compared to households without cars, men will be compared to women, and household of different economic status will also be compared.

Participating researchers 
Professor Tommy Gärling, psychology
PhD Cecilia Jakobsson, psychology
PhD Amelie Gamble, psychology
PhD Lars E Olsson, psychology

Funded by Bisek 2006-2008


From celluloid to pixels. The networks and rituals of the mobilecamera e-cinema.

Digitalisation is changing visual culture and is providing consumers with new and untried alternatives of producing, consuming and the display of pictorial media. There are more questions at stake than just consumer satisfaction and more images - static or in motion. New uses of images witness new gender roles and forms of display constitute emerging negotiations of public and private - what can be pictured and what is fit for showing? Albums, previously a highly private medium move into the public on the moblogs of the net - and the public moviehouse is out for change due to new forms of technology, material and intense competition from homebased visual technologies. Two sub studies focus on two particular image-making and image producing technologies: the mobile camera and e-cinema. The first technology produces material that is ephemeral and inexpensive, mirroring the experiences of individuals, while the second is part of a large industry and distributes a costly product to large audiences. But as will be shown in the ethnographic work on moblogs and in e-cinemas, digital technology also moves visual culture in the direction of convergence, questioning the traditional division of public and private spheres.

Participating researchers
PhD Karin Wagner, art history and visual studies
Associate professor Magnus Mörck, ethnology

Funded by Swedish Research Council 2006-2008


Energy in transition II

In most energy scenarios it is established that energy efficiency is the most important factor to avoid climate change caused by increasing greenhouse gas emissions ¿ it is indeed as important as the sum of all new energy supply. Our work of analyzing trends, problems and possibilities for reducing energy use has in the previous project "Energy in transition I" mainly been focused on the building sector. In this project we will partly extend the analysis of energy efficiency in the transport sector based on our large database, and partly encompass the whole energy end-use perspective by studying the importance of changed consumption patterns and the rebound effect. The project is a collaboration between Chalmers and Center for Consumer Science

Participating researcher from CFK
Mikael Wickelgren, PhD business administration

Funded by Energimyndigheten 2007-2008


The multidimensional food consumer. Values and behaviours of consumers 55+.

The aim of the project is to contribute to an increased knowledge and understanding of 55+ consumers views, preferences and expectations on food and food consumption in relation to differences in socioeconomic status, ethnicity, gender and regionality. Special focus will be on the role of food in relation to identity and relation building, demands on products and services, views on health and environmental issues and views on brands and store concepts. In three sub studies, each lasting for a year and by the use of qualitative/ethnographic methods three separate groups of older consumers of special interest will be studied:

1) Well educated, economically well off city dwellers (2004-2005)
2) New Swedes (2005-2006)
3) Inhabitants of sparesly-populated areas

Each sub study will be presented in a CFK-report, as well as in articles and on conferences.

Participating researchers
Associate Professor Helene Brembeck, Ethnology
Associate professor MariAnne Karlsson, PPD Human Factors Engineering
PhD Lena Jonsson, Home Economics
PhD Eva Ossiansson, Business Administration
Professor Helena Shanahan, Home Economics
PhD student Kerstin Bergström, Home Economics

Co-operating partner
Gunnar Hall, The Swedish Institute for food and Biotechnology (SIK)
>>Summary of the first two years of the project

Funded by Formas 2004-2007


Is size large really large? ¿ Relationships between the clothing sizes and the labeling

The aim of this project is to examine the relationship between the actual clothing sizes and the size labeling given in the garments. One often hears the claim that fashion items only are sold in small sizes, and that the size is given larger than what it actually is. The incorrect size labeling and use of different size codes makes it more difficult for the consumers to find clothes that fit.  Information will be collected with two different research methods, by size measurements in the clothing stores and by surveys. Quantitative data will be collected with a web based questionnaire in Norway, Sweden and Finland. Qualitative data will be collected by interviewing customers at clothing stores in Norway.

The project is managed by three consumer research institutions; SIFO in Norway, CFK in Sweden and NCRC in Finland. Project leader is Ingun Grimstad Klepp, SIFO. Professor Helene Brembeck is responsible on behalf of CFK

Researcher from CFK:
Ph D Viveka Berggren-Torell

Funded by The Nordic Council of Ministers'  2007-2009


The good meal

The aim of the project is to investigate ideas of the good meal from parents' and a children's perspectives, taking the point of departure in two Swedish magazines, Vi Föräldrar and Kamratposten, during the period 1969-2007. The family dinner in the evening is not only an occasion to get nutrion. It is also a manifestation of family togetherness and maybe a symbol of the happy family. At the same time the dinner table is a place for communication, where many things are to be communicated and negotiated, and also a place for child upbringing. School-children have also another food environment, the school meal, which is surrounded by expectations, social interaction and rules.

Participating researcher
Barbro Johansson, associate professor ethnology

Funded by Wilhelm and Martina Lundgrens Scientific Fund 2007-2008


Design and gender

This is an inter-disciplinary study that includes ethnology, design and marketing - looking at products that may deconstruct or trouble gender stereotypes. Examples include the Volvo YCC concept car that was developed with an all female design team. Another project to be studied is the kilt designed for construction workers by Blaklader. Swea is a line of clothes that has tried hard to rework the image of young girls away from stereotypes, also to be included in the study among many more examples. If there is a market of consumers dissatisfied with gender stereotyped products - this is what would interest them! The project is about linking the logics of consumerism to gender equality, it is to make both good academic research and some applied work that could be of use to designers and entrepreneurs. This will be a project with a lot of visuality, in the products, and in the methods of research and how we would like to spread the results. With the help of design students there will be even more gender troubling artefacts to show, the result of small scale design experiments where the researchers cooperate with companies and the Design University of Göteborg.

Project coordinator
Associate professor Magnus Mörck, ethnology

Participating researchers
Marcus Jahnke, designer
PhD Lena Hansson, business administration
PhD Magdalena Petersson, ethnology 

Funded by Vinnova 2005-2008

The branded body: Embodying brands in a cultural context

Physical training is an important part of many consumers' lives and fitness programs are often branded. The study aims at understanding how discourses on bodily health become part of consumers¿ experiences of physical training and consumption of related brands. The project is inter-disciplinary and focuses on a fitness centre with a strong and distinct brand. Part 1: The incorporation of  food into training: Consumers' brand relations deals with the role of brands in physically active consumers' everyday consumption of fitness and food. Part 2: Fashion, body and health: embodying sports brands and health discourses focuses aesthetic performances of health and fashion in relation to fitness. Both parts are based on ethnographic methods.

Participating researchers
PhD Ulrika Holmberg, business administration
PhD Magdalena Petersson, ethnology

 Funded by Stiftelsen för ekonomisk forskning i Västsverige.


Commercial culture in an ethnological and economical perspective

The project Commercial culture in an ethnological and economical perspective is a co-operation between researchers and PhD-students representing Ethnology and Business Administration. It has received funding from The Bank of Sweden Tercentenary Foundation and will be going on during the years 2002-2005. The overall aim of this project is to contribute to the development of consumption research originating and evolving at a crossroad where commercial and cultural phenomena intersect. The means of research will be ethnographic and the settings under study will include a wide range of phenomena like different kinds of collecting, visual display of artefacts in diverse contexts and rituals marking the events of the life-course. The point is not to seek out an everyday life of the common people untainted by commerce, but on the contrary to try to explore the impact of artefacts on the way people fix relations and negotiate relations, identities, lifestyles, networks etc at the very point where consumers, retailers and entrepreneurs interact. The concept ¿commercial culture¿ is used to bridge the conventional dualism between culture and commerce.

The idea is to see these as inter dependent and sometimes coincident, rather than as conventional opposites. In other words, culture is always involved in commercial settings and produced in such settings that it can also be supposed to have far reaching consequences in other areas. Instead of the binarism and linearism of the modernistic meta narrative, the views of postmodernism are used in that consumer research focus on intersections and juxtapositions of many different phenomena. The binary constructions of modernism will be exposed to analysis in commercial culture settings, not least the subject-object dualism. By looking closer at the objects as actants or hybrids, new interest could be put into material culture studies, without returning to old-fashioned materialism. Another point of interest is that commercial culture settings always also involve aspects of power and ethics; taste hierarchies, exclusions, lack of resources, moral dilemmas are all part of everyday life. In eight subprojects interesting phenomena, actions and places will be brought out, where people as kin, friends or anonymous audiences intersect with commerce, the creations and settings of local retailers e brands. The concept 2choreography of consumption" is used to focus activities such as exchange, ritual, collecting, display, gift-giving etc as central moments when commerce and culture meet and the production-co production-consumption divide is bridged.

Project coordinators
Associate Professor Helene Brembeck, ethnology
Associate Professor Karin M. Ekström, business administration
Associate Professor Magnus Mörck, ethnology

>> Sub-projects

Funded by The Bank of Sweden Tercentenary Foundation 2002-2005


The decorated male - an economic-ethnological study of masculinity, aesthetics and power in a translocal context

The project is a joint effort of ethnology and management science to focus on men¿s fashion and bodily aesthetics as an important aspect of the construction of gender. Masculinity will be studied as a transnational cultural process through a sample of selected locals or areas like, men's hairdressers in Eastern Europe, managers in Southern Europe or the masculine iconography of the visual medias of North Atlantic Europe in advertising and photojournalism. Recent studies in masculinity proves it to be variable and changing, not only within any given society, but also suggests how it could be conceptualized in terms of power differences between nations and in relation to a global economic order. Robert Connell's ideas have guided our selection of research areas and we hope to make a contribution to the ongoing international discussion. However, we will not just replicate well known work, but in some ways also try to contest it. Is it a fact that all men and women outside the North Atlantic Heartland uncritically adopts and relates to a dominant white middleclass ideal? What differences and contradictions in the production of masculinity come out when you place the male hairdressers saloon of Vilnius and the managing directors room of Milan side by side, within the same theoretical frame? When gender is on the agenda most people think of women who somehow seem more fit to embody this kind of difference. The line of feminist masculinity studies, to which this project belongs, disregards this unreflective bias of limiting studies to female subordination and tries to relate to masculinity as a variable and border-crossing phenomena.

Project coordinator
Associate professor Magnus Mörck, ethnology

Participating researchers
Professor Barbara Czarniawska, business administration
Associate professor Magnus Mörck, ethnology 
PhD Maria Tullberg, business administration
PhD-student Marie Nordberg, ethnology

 Funded by Swedish Research Council 2003-2005. 


Product bundle

A common marketing strategy among manufacturing companies, service producers and retailers is product bundle, to sell products or services in groups with a special offer. Literature regarding product bundle discuss assorted offers with a reach from ¿buy 10, get one free¿ to more complex product bundles, for example charter tours whit ¿all-inclusive¿. Today, the range of product bundles is huge and varies within a broad spread, therefore it is important to investigate how consumers product values, product choice, consumption and satisfaction are affected. This project aims to increase knowledge and understanding about consumer¿s choice, product valuation and satisfaction towards product bundles. More specifically the study tries to answer following questions: What product bundles are requested of the consumers? What effects does product bundle have on consumers regarding valuation of separate products? What effects do product bundles have on consumers aim to buy and also their consumption satisfaction?

Participating researchers
> Professor Tommy Gärling, psychology
> Associate professor Agneta Marell, business administration
> PhD-student Anders Wäppling, business administration

 Funded by Handelsbankens forskningsstiftelse 2003-2005.


Currency change and the consumer

This project is a collaboration with researchers from United Kingdom, France, Italy, Poland, Portugal, Sweden and Austria. The aim is to study how consumers perceive and are influenced by changes in prices and exchange rates. The transition to the euro in the European Monetary Union is an example of such a change that makes salient many psychological research problems. Inflation and deflation are other changes that have psychological effects on consumers in need of being investigated. The more specific research issues that will be studied by means of field observations as well as field and laboratory experiments in the different countries include how knowledge of prices is aquired, how accurate the ability is to judge price changes, how evaluation of prices and purchases are influenced by changes in price and exchange rates, and what role attitudes play.

Participating researchers
Professor Tommy Gärling, psychology
PhD Amelie Gamble, psychology
PhD Asgeir Juliusson, psychology

Funded by Swedish Research Council 2003-2005.


The stock market, retirement plans, and the choice of portfolios

Internationally, research in behavioral finance has started to investigate which role psychological factors have on how experts and lay people make investments in stocks. In this project, such Swedish research will be initiated. Three coordinated projects are planned. Using different complementary methods, project one will examine the psychological reasons for stock brokers´ decisions to buy and sell stocks. In project two, experimental studies will also be carried out of lay people´s ability to choose stock portofolios. In addition to contribute to the theoretical development in behavioral finance, the aim is to provide better knowledge of how the public should be informed about how to choose retirement plans. Project three will describe the level of knowledge and interest of the public. The need for information, education, and changed rules of the stock market to protect lay people will then be possible to determine.

esearchers participating in the project
Project 1, economics:
Professor Clas Bergström, economics, Dept. of Finance, Stockholm School of Economics
PhD Henrik Svedsäter, psychology, Dept. of Economics, School of Business, Economics and Law at University of Gothenburg
Project 2, psychology:
Professor Tommy Gärling, psychology, Dept. of Psychology, University of Gothenburg
PhD Niklas Karlsson, psychology, Dept. of Psychology, University of Gothenburg
PhD Ted Martin Hedesström, psychology, Dept. of Psychology, University of Gothenburg

Project 3, business administration:
Professor Rita Mårtensson, business administration, Dept. of Business Administration, School of Economics and Commercial Law at University of Gothenburg
PhD-student Jeanette Hauff, business administration, Dept. of Business Administration, School of Economics and Commercial Law at University of Gothenburg

The research project was funded by Bank of Sweden Tercentenary Foundation 2002-2005.

Nordic Children's Food Arenas - messages, selections and food environment.

The project is a co-operative endeavour between researchers in anthropology, nutrition, sociology and ethnology. The project will be carried out by four centers of consumption research: National Institute for Consumer Research (SIFO) in Norway, Center for Consumer Sciense (CFK) in Sweden, Suhr´s University College and National consumer Research Centre in Finland and is a part of the research programme "The Good Life. Food, health and wellbeing from a life course perspective" and related is to "Children, Food and Culture in the Nordic Countries". Children have access to a number of places and contexts, arenas, presenting a wide range of different product offerings and food-related messages. The purpose of the project is to examine the various food arenas children encounter during an ordinary day in school as well as after the school-day is over. This means café's, fast-food restaurants, food-stores and leisure environments. We see children as active consumers with their own taste and preferences. Children also have their own money to spend on snack, soda and food. Children doesn¿t always follow advices concerning food and nutrition. There is also studies that point in the direction that children are getting heavier. I is in the childhood eating patterns are gained. Therefore it is important to get a better knowledge about children's food-habits and preferences. By doing this study we hope that we can get a better picture of how children¿s eating patterns are constructed and formed.

Project coordinator
PhD Barbro Johansson, ethnology

Participating researchers
M.A. Sandra Hillén, ethnology
Gun Roos, Oslo
Johanna Mäkelä, Helsinki
Gitte Laub Hansen, Copenhagen

Funded by Nordic Council of Ministers.


Young consumers

From a governmental decision on support to young consumers, the Swedish Inheritance Fund has given financial support to eight projects with the  overall title "Young people's work with consumer issues". The project embraces a broad area. The effects of advertising, housing issues, fair trade, allergy and indebtedness are some of the themes of the project. The range of methods is also diverse: community radio, exhibitions, street theatre, video films, magazine, workshops and educating informants are examples of methods used by the projects to work with and reach out with consumer matters. All projects have the aim to increase knowledge on consumer issues and to strengthen young people's positions as consumers. The goal is active and conscious young consumers. From a research perspective it is interesting to study the ideas of market, consumption, knowledge and information, which are the point of departures of the projects. It is also interesting to look at which methods that are chosen to fulfil the intentions and which considerations, negotiations and changes that take place in the course of the work. The aim with the research project is to study the processes that take place during the realizations of the consumer projects. Which pre-understandings are there about consumer society, the market and young people's positions? Which problems are regarded as important to work with? How does one find knowledge and how is it mediated? What knowledge is considered valuable? The separate consumer projects might also generate specific questions regarding e.g. ethnicity, ethics and growing up in relation to consumption.

Project coordinator:
PhD Barbro Johansson, ethnology

Subprojects and participating researchers:
The magazine Tromb
Niklas Hansson, ethnology

"You have to know what¿s going on!"
A study of a consumer guidance project for young Bosnians in Sweden
Katarina Jonsson, ethnology

Christian consumers
PhD Barbro Johansson, ethnology

Brand new World
MA Sandra Hillén, ethnology

Final report of all consumer and research projects

PhD Barbro Johansson, ethnology

Funded by the Swedish Inheritance Fund 2003-2004.

Universal design - a marketable or utopian concept?

Design constitutes a signifi cant dimension in contemporary Western consumption societies. The design practice is important as it implicitly determines consumers' ability to create a meaningful life. The overall purpose of this thesis is to enhance the understanding of Universal design and explore this concept from a consumer perspective. Universal design opens up for a more extended view of consumers as it implies that all designed artifacts should be usable and accessible for as many people as possible. A cultural perspective of consumer research frames the thesis, which also includes design theory to study the concept of Universal design. In order to obtain a more diversifi ed and comprehensive understanding of Universal design, a qualitative research approach is used and two empirical studies performed. The first study describes design experts' experience of Universal design and the second study describe consumers' experience of design from a Universal design perspective. As Universal design is argued to be marketable among its advocates, this issue has also been subject to attention. The results of these studies will provide insight for consumer researchers as well as marketing and design practitioners.

Lena Hansson is a researcher at Center for Consumer Science, CFK, and is also affiliated with the Department of Business Administration at School of Business, Economics and Law, Göteborg University. Universal design - a marketable or utopian concept? is part of the four year interdisciplinary research project Commercial cultures at CFK.

Participating researcher:
PhD Lena Hansson, business administration

Funded by the The Bank of Sweden Tercentenary Foundation.

Capturing the elusive simplifier

Multi-dimensional consumers, fragmented markets and paradoxical consumption patterns - during the latest years it seems like consumers can give marketers headaches. As post-modernity has swept across contemporary society the need for theory aiding understandings of the social organization of consumers in the market place has increased. The theoretical perspective of this thesis emanates from a cultural perspective on consumer research, where lifestyle theory which may aid such understanding has emerged. The purpose of this thesis is to explore and describe how consumers create, maintain and communicate a lifestyle using consumption practices which refl ect a voluntarily restricted consumption i.e. simplicity. As this thesis has a cultural perspective on consumer research, its methodology is inspired from ethnography and has a qualitative and interpretative approach. Two empirical studies have been conducted, which both emanates from consumer practices refl ecting voluntarily restricted consumption, i.e. simplicity. The first of these studies uses a car sharing organization as a basis for material gathering, and the second uses an eco-village to gather material. Using tools from lifestyle theory based on the cultural perspective on consumer research, this thesis capture the elusive simplifi er as adhering to a middleclass lifestyle emerging in between symbolic boundaries (Holt 1997) characterized by the emotional and/or ideological commitment (Maffesoli 1996, Cova & Cova 2002) to the green of its adherents.

Capturing the elusive simplifier is part of the four year interdisciplinary research project Commercial cultures at Center for Consumer Science, CFK.

Participating researcher
PhD Pernilla Jonsson, business administration

Funded by the The Bank of Sweden Tercentenary Foundation.

Something old, something new - to create ones wedding

The aim of this doctoral thesis is to study how human and non-human actors come to create wedding performances in today¿s consumer society. The author has not looked at the actual wedding ceremony, but the spectacle of the wedding.  The reason for this is the author's interest in consumerism, and so she has studied the wedding spectacle as a consumer event and as networks of both human and non-human actors. To get married you do not need rings, special clothes, bouquets, or any of the material trappings that fill the pages of bridal magazines. But weddings are connected with many different concepts and material things, and it is precisely those ideas and things that are involved in weddings in which the author have an interest. 

Eva Knuts is a researcher at Center for Consumer Science, CFK, and is also affiliated with the department of Ethnology at Göteborg University. Something old, something new - to create ones wedding is part of the four year interdisciplinary research project Commercial cultures at CFK.

Participating researcher:
PhD Eva Knuts, ethnology

Funded by the The Bank of Sweden Tercentenary Foundation.

Nordic children as economic actors

The project is a cooperation between Center for Consumer Science (CFK) in Göteborg, National Institute for Consumer Research (SIFO) in Oslo, Center for Marketing Communication (CMC) in Copenhagen and Department of Economics and Management in Helsinki. The aim of the project has been to look closer at the messages different media convey about children and consumption. Which ideals are brought out? How is the child portrayed? What about the argumentation? How do different actors argue?

In this pilot study knowledge about the field has been collected and the methods have been tried out. In the next phase a greater study in three Nordic countries about media images of children as consumers will be carried out. PhD Barbro Johansson has carried out the pilot study.

Participating researcher
PhD Barbro Johansson, Ethnology

 Funded by Nordic Council of Ministers.

The food and the school; a sustainable thinking.

The purpose with this study is to (follow) the project "Sustainable meals" that is pursued in two districts of Göteborg; Lundby and Majorna. The forces behind the project are Konsument Göteborg, Göteborgs Stads Upp-handlings AB, Livsmedel i Väst and Miljöförvaltningen Agenda 21.

On a national, regional and local level there are a number of goals and documents concerning environment and health issues. The keyword is sustainable development. The intention of the project "Sustainable meals" is to develop a method for how to work with issues concerning food and sustainable development on a local level. The ambition is to turn know-ledge about an ecological, economical, healthy and sustainable food-production and consumption into concrete action. The most important method in the project is collaborative learning. This sustains education of the schools¿ personnel. The aim is to work towards a sustainable thinking about food, environment and health. Hopefully the thinking will be bypassed to the children. The study will highlight the point where the political intentions meet reality. By looking at how the knowledge is bypassed to the target groups the discourses about environmental issues and public health will become visible. How the people involved are going to embrace the message bypassed is also something to look in to. Collaborative learning is described as processes of common learning and common problem solving between the actors involved. Can it be common when the initiative comes from above and is a result of national and regional aims? Is the expected feeling of participation created, which is necessary for the schools to continue the work after the end of the project?

Participating researchers:
PhD Barbro Johansson, ethnology
M.A. Sandra Hillén, ethnology

 Funded by Göteborgs kommun.

The discourse about children and food in two Swedish magazines: a historical perspective on food in children¿s lives.

The intention is that the project will work as a pilot study for a greater project about children as food consumers. The magazine Kamratposten (Friend's Post) and Vi Föräldrar (We Parents) is studied during the period 1969-2005. The aim is to find out how the discourse about food and eating habits has been during the last 35 years and relate this to changes and tendencies in society. The magazines have been selected since they both have been continuously publicized during the period and in rather numerous editions. The target groups are respectively children aged 7-15 and parents. Thereby both the perspectives of children and of parents are obtained. Issues that are discussed are for example: How does one write about food and eating in the two magazines? Which primary products are mentioned? How does one write about meals, laying the table and being together at the meals? Which values does one relate to, social, emotional, health and environment values? How have the ideals of food and meals been during the period.

Participating researcher:
PhD Barbro Johansson, ethnology 

Funded by Wilhelm och Martinas vetenskapsfond.


Young consumers' credit based lifestyles and payment problems 

The project is a joint nordic research project between National Consumer Research Centre in Finland, Statens Institut for Forbruksforskning in Norway and Centrum for Konsumentvetenskap (CFK) in Sweden. The Finish party has initiated the project. The purpose of the project is to investigate the relationship between young consumer's credit related lifestyles and payment problems and the role and responsibility of societal actors in the development and prevention of payment problems in the Nordic countries. The Swedish part of the study is concluded by June 1.

Researchers participating in the project:
PhD Jesper Olesen, media- and communication studies
PhD-student Jakob Wenzer, etnologhy

Funded by Nordic Council of Ministers.

The meaning of consumption and consumers relations to artefacts

This project focuses on how the meaning of consumption and relations between people and artefacts are described in different research disciplines. Different perspectives and approaches will be compared by conducting literature reviews. The purpose of the project is to describe the state of the art, but also to contribute to development of theory by using an interdisciplinary approach. The project also involves an ethnographic study, which focuses on collecting in general and glass in particular. The purpose is to understand the meaning of consumers' collections by investigating how collections begin, which motives are behind collecting, how collecting takes place, how collections develop and change over time.

Researchers participating in the project:
Associate professor Karin M. Ekström, business administration

The research project was funded by the Bank of Sweden Tercentenary Foundation 2001-2002.


E-cinema: digital house as space of experiences

This project deals with a new line of development in visual culture, using digital film and projectors, instead of the analog 35 mm system in a number of cinemas in the north of Sweden. With ethnographic method researchers from business management, ethnology, sociology and innovative design study how the opportunities of a new technology is explored in local contexts. Digitalization makes it possible to show not only VCR, DVD, television, Internet and digitalized movies, but also to develop interactive communication between local sites. The study tries to understand how various producers, distributors and consumers develop different understandings of the technology, depending on their background and the way they are involved in the process. Applications in entertainment, politics, education and even medicine, have been explored, but the outcome of this experiment is still uncertain. Legal and technical problems abound, and there is also resistance from the audience in accepting unfamiliar content.

Sometimes E-cinema is viewed as mainly a cheaper way of distribution of films that could perhaps save the surviving cinemas of Swedish Lapland, in other cases it is seen as a completely new phenomenon, having great potential I reviving public space. E-cinema represents a form of convergence of different medias and visual experiences that have created great hopes among innovators, politicians and entrepreneurs in a crisis ridden part Sweden, but the study also proves the many difficulties created for early adopters of new technologies that still have many unsolved problems.

The subprojects and participating researchers:

The uses of public space which in this case is both opened up and delimited by various local practices
Henrik Benesch, Innovative design

Local structures of appropriation
Jonas Parsmo, sociology

How to market e-cinema
Christian Fuentes, business administration

The narrative construction of technology in a gender perspective
Anita Beckman, ethnology

Funded by Swedish Film Institute, The National Federation of People's Parks and Community Centres, Adlerbertska forskningsfonden, School of photography at University of Gothenburg and School of Design and Crafts at University of Gothenburg.

From consumer to critical consumer

The purpose of this study is to follow the project Advertising - does it affect me? conducted by young people in the organization Kulturföreningen Lättings. This study is linked to the project Young consumers.

Researchers participating in the project:
PhD Jesper Olesen, media- and communication studies
PhD-student Jakob Wenzer, etnologhy 

Funded by The Swedish Inheritance Fund 2002-2003.



















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