Almost Equal: Consumption under Fragmented Stigma

Eichert, Christian A and Luedicke, Marius K. 2022. Almost Equal: Consumption under Fragmented Stigma. Journal of Consumer Research, 49(3), pp. 409-429. ISSN 0093-5301 [Article]

Eichert & Luedicke (2022) - JCR.pdf - Accepted Version
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Abstract or Description

How do historically stigmatized social groups consume strategically when they have achieved greater recognition, status, and respectability in society? Based on a seven-year interpretive social representations analysis of gay men in Germany, the authors first show that dominant, stigmatizing representations of such groups do not ameliorate uniformly and for all. Instead, they fragment into oppressive, enabling, and normalized societal representations that different consumers encounter to different degrees in their everyday lives. In the wake of these societal shifts, the stigmatized group itself disintegrates into five representational subgroups, referred to as underground, discrete, hybrid, assimilated, and post-stigma social groups. These subgroups use consumption for different and partly opposing strategic purposes, such as hiding and denial, collective resistance, and deconstruction of differences. The authors synthesize their findings into a conceptual model of consumption under fragmented stigma that extends prior research on consumption under dominant and total stigma configurations and suggests ways in which consumption can not only mitigate but also reinforce stigma. In doing so, they also shed light on the complex lived experiences of a vulnerable social group that has become almost equal.

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This is a pre-copyedited, author-produced version of an article accepted for publication in the Journal of Consumer Research following peer review. The version of record is available online at:


stigma, stigmatized consumers, gay men, LGBTQ, subculture, consumer culture

Departments, Centres and Research Units:

Institute of Management Studies


17 December 2021Accepted
4 January 2022Published Online
October 2022Published

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Date Deposited:

25 Jan 2022 09:44

Last Modified:

04 Jan 2023 02:26

Peer Reviewed:

Yes, this version has been peer-reviewed.


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