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The role of emotion discourse and pathic stigma in the delegitmization of consumer practices

C. Valor, J. Lloveras, E. Papaoikonomou

Journal of Consumer Research Vol. 47, nº. 5, pp. 636 - 653


Drawing on institutional theory and discursive psychology, this article elucidates how actors use emotion discourse to undermine the legitimacy of consumer practices. Based on an empirical investigation of the bullfighting controversy in Spain, our work shows how activists engage in the production and circulation of compelling emotional prototypes of their adversaries. Such emotional prototypes constitute the discursive foundations of a pathic stigma, which, once established, taints the identity of the social groups associated with the practice. Our work frames the centrality of pathic stigmatization as a cultural mechanism mediating the relationship between emotion discourse and the subsequent delegitimization of consumer practices. We make three key contributions to the literature: we advance a rhetorical perspective on emotions and their role in deinstitutionalization processes; we further develop the theory of marketplace sentiments by showing how sentiments operate downstream; and we provide evidence of the sociocultural mechanisms underpinning the emotional vilification, stereotyping and stigmatization of consumer collectives.

Keywords: legitimacy contests, delegitimization, stigmatization, emotion discourse, sentiments, rhetorical analysis

JCR Impact Factor and WoS quartile: 8,612 - Q1 (2021); 7,200 - Q2 (2022)

DOI reference: DOI icon https://doi.org/10.1093/jcr/ucaa028

Published on paper: February 2021.

Published on-line: June 2020.

C. Valor, J. Lloveras, E. Papaoikonomou, The role of emotion discourse and pathic stigma in the delegitmization of consumer practices. Journal of Consumer Research. Vol. 47, nº. 5, pp. 636 - 653, February 2021. [Online: June 2020]

    Research topics:
  • Social inclusion, vulnerability, longevity and wellbeing
  • Green technologies adoption and consumer engagement

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