Innovative Research Methods
Clearly more innovative methodological approaches to consumer research are sorely needed. Those consumers who lack literacy skills might benefit from methods that leverage their visual resources, such as body maps (Cornwall 1992), photographic methods (Heisley and Levy 1991), or even computer-based methods (given the visual dominance of online navigation). Alternatively, approaches that involve consumers in extended interactions over time might be employed, such as critical ethnography (Penaloza 1994). And given that so many of our most pressing problems, such as obesity and poverty, implicate the wider community, we need methods that can engage these communities and build human capacity and community efficacy. Action research (Reason and Bradbury 2001), participatory drama (Boal 1979), or photovoice (Wang 2003) offer some promising directions because these methods are driven by relationship-based interactions that are characterized by mutual interest, trust, and commitment. Finally, neither traditional methods nor even innovative methods are typically used to provoke social change within the domain of consumer research.
We look forward to having an interesting dialogue with both new and established scholars. Proposals that discuss the use of established methods in new ways or suggest new methods to consumer research are encouraged. Of particular interest are methodological approaches that grapple with the aforementioned limitations, such as methods that are longitudinal, community-based, participatory, visual, or aimed at social change. We also especially welcome proposals from researchers who are studying difficult, complex, and intractable populations who could benefit by learning about alternative methods. We encourage people who have a passion for methods, since our focus will be on expanding our methodological repertoire to better understand consumers who are under-researched such as the poor, marginalized, or disenfranchised.
The first goal of this track will be to establish meaningful scholarly relationships among researchers who have an interest in transformative methods. The second goal will be to identify an integrative research project based on the distributed expertise of the track members. While we anticipate that the precise nature and focus of this project will emerge organically from the interests of the participants, some potential areas include developing a transformative research process methodology, reviewing and integrating new research methods into a framework, or delving into the significant ethical dilemmas involved in doing transformative research.