Aanka Batta

Becoming Selves: Psychoanalysis and Consumer Identity

Aanka Batta

PhD student, University of Essex

Start of the project: October 2008; finishing by December 2012

Funding: University of Essex / Essex Business School scholarship

Co-supervisor: Michael Scott

Abstract: This project addresses the need for an interdisciplinary and relational perspective on consumer identity. Consumer Identity is defined as the consumer’s experience of varied emotional states that are evoked in the marketplace. The main argument is that the market attempts at strategically exploiting the consumer’s vulnerable psychological states for its own wider interests. This exploitation, however, is only made possible through the consumer’s innate susceptibility in relation to an Other who is depended upon. The consumer, thus, is inclined towards the market’s existing rhetoric, where exploitation takes place first and foremost at the relational level of the psyche. This project contends that reflexive awareness of market experience brings emotional states into dialogue, allowing the consumer to negotiate identity with the self and with others. In this manner, the consumer gains reflexive agency in the marketplace. Drawing on original data gathered from large scale luxury consumer shows across Britain, this project illustrates the emotional journey of consumer identity. While Freudian and Lacanian approaches have so far been inspirational in contemporary psychoanalytic analysis of consumer culture, this project refers to the British Objects Relations conceptual framework. This project thus contributes a contemporary psychoanalytic and relational definition of consumer identity to the existing discourses of Consumer Culture Theory, Critical Marketing (Management) Studies and Psycho-Social Studies.
Keywords: the Other, Relational perspective, British Object Relations, Psycho-Social

Contact: abatta AT essex.ac.uk

Employment: Aanka has recently agreed to take up a Lectureship in Marketing at Essex Business School.

Böhm, S. and Batta, A. (2010) ‘Just doing it: Enjoying Commodity Fetishism with Lacan’, Organization, 17(3): 345-361. PDF-preprint