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EMAC 2020 Annual Conference

Consumer Agency and Obligatory Consumption

Published: May 27, 2020


Maria Rejowicz-Quaid, University of Edinburgh


consumer agency; obligatory consumption; practice theory


Consumer agency in extant literature is portrayed in terms of unlimited freedom to act. However, consumers find themselves in situations where their capacity for action is constrained by legal, moral, social or other factors. In this paper the concept of obligatory consumption is introduced and a novel type of consumer agency which arises in such an obligatory consumption setting is described. In the particular context of child car seats, risky agency emerges as a practice in response to macro-level legislative forces. Implications for marketing professionals and policy makers to increase safety in obligatory consumption are discussed.