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EMAC 2023 Annual

Managing compulsive consumption through practice reconfiguration

Published: May 24, 2023


Larissa Becker, Tampere University; Melissa Akaka, University of Denver; Hope Schau, University of Arizona; Elina Jaakkola, University of Turku


Compulsive consumption can be harmful to consumers and society, and it is notoriously difficult to manage. Hence, the goal of this article is to understand how consumers manage compulsive consumption. We adopt a practice theory lens to study this phenomenon through a qualitative study of recovering alcoholics. Our findings describe the process of managing compulsive consumption through practice reconfiguration by identifying the types of practices consumers reconfigure, how they engage with them, and different configurations of practices (e.g., non-management of compulsive consumption, management of compulsive consumption). (Mis)alignments within and across practices can lead to shifts in dispositions toward consumption objects, which then leads consumers toward other configurations of practices. By describing this process, we contribute to the compulsive consumption literature and offer implications to practitioners and public policy.