Social Media for Social Change: A Transformative Consumer Research Perspective
Groundswell (Li & Berno , 2008). Here Comes Everybody (Shirky, 2008). Join the Conversation (Ja e, 2007). Six Pixels of Separation (Joel, 2009). Trust Agents (Brogan & Smith, 2009). Th e New Community Rules (Weinberg, 2009). Socialnomics (Qualman, 2009). # e titles of the latest popular business books about marketing leave little doubt that business has recognized the in$ uence of social media. # e book titles hint at a tipping point where the social communications of consumers speaking to other consumers online lead to important social and economic outcomes, which marketers and managers are already partaking in and from which many of them are pro! ting. Just as with Transformative Consumer Research (TCR), the same underlying principles that enable marketers to in$ uence consumers to bond with and buy brands can also be used to further consumer empowerment and well-being. In fact, from the time of some of the earlier theorization about the links between social media and marketing (e.g., Kozinets, 1999; Levine et al., 2000), consumer empowerment-and, explicitly, a moral empowerment-has been hailed as a hallmark of the medium:
In this chapter, we seek to consolidate, broaden, and develop these views. Not only can social media and online community be a site of consumer education and empowerment when dealing with individual companies and brands, but it also can be a place where consumers educate one another about their own attitudes and ideological stances toward consumption itself, as the Kozinets and Handelman (1998) study of the spiritual aspects of online boycotting discussions demonstrated. Not only can these communities and their media be locations where resistance to individual companies and marketing campaigns can be organized (see Kozinets & Handelman, 2004), but they also can be loci where wider visions of communal and social alternatives can be
handcra" ed, haggled over, hiked up, and handed o and where new paths for consumer well-being can be plowed, stepped on, and perhaps even followed.