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Understanding the expansion of circular markets: building relational legitimacy to overcome the stigma of second-hand clothing

C. Valor, L. Ronda, C. Abril

Sustainable Production and Consumption Vol. 30, pp. 77 - 88


Despite evidence showing that the expansion of circular markets, particularly second-hand clothing markets, may be constrained by so-called green stigma, our understanding of the extent to which stigma can be decreased is limited. By focusing on the cultural construction of the mass second-hand clothing market in a European country, this study demonstrated that the emotional and validation work carried out by institutional actors—i.e., players (vendors), media and consumers—constructs the relational legitimacy of the market, which eventually leads to market expansion. The results of this study provide a novel explanation of market expansion by unveiling a key mediating process: the formation of a new habitus that, in turn, sustains the construction of relational legitimacy judgements of circular business models by overcoming green stigma. The results also inform the study of transitions by showing that micro-foundational work can explain market expansion.

Spanish layman's summary:

Los mercados de ropa de segunda mano se frenan por el estigma verde. El trabajo demuestra cómo es posible cambiar el estigma verde gracias al trabajo emocional de diferentes actores (empresas, influencers y medios) que modifican los significados y las emociones asociadas a la ropa de segunda mano.

English layman's summary:

Second-hand clothing markets stagnate due to the green stigma. This research demonstrates how this stigma is eroded thanks to the emotion work of market actors (marketplaces, influencers and media) that shift the meanings and emotions associated with second-hand clothing.

Keywords: Market expansion; Legitimization; Circular markets; Habitus; Fashion; Second-hand clothing; Green stigma

JCR Impact Factor and WoS quartile: 12,100 - Q1 (2022)

DOI reference: DOI icon https://doi.org/10.1016/j.spc.2021.11.027

Published on paper: March 2022.

Published on-line: December 2021.

C. Valor, L. Ronda, C. Abril, Understanding the expansion of circular markets: building relational legitimacy to overcome the stigma of second-hand clothing. Sustainable Production and Consumption. Vol. 30, pp. 77 - 88, March 2022. [Online: December 2021]

    Research topics:
  • Managerial transitions to sustainability (SDG) and disruptive business models
  • Green technologies adoption and consumer engagement
  • Circular economy