пятница, 16 марта 2012 г.

Brands, Dreams and Spaces: Making Markets through Marketing and Consumption in Post-Socialist Economies?

Workshop in Sofia/Bulgaria – May 17th - 19th 2012

Brands, Dreams and Spaces:
Making Markets through Marketing and Consumption in Post-Socialist Economies


Organized by the Institute of Geography of the University of Graz/Austria
and the Leibniz Institute for Regional Geography (Leipzig/Germany)

Political changes in transforming economies and post-socialist societies often have been characterized as ‘consumer revolutions’ driven by aspirations for better consumption opportunities and by images of Western consumer goods leading to a better life. The transformation from state-regulated to free market economies, and from the collectively ‘searching’ socialist consumer to the individualized, ‘choosing’ capitalist shopper is an ongoing process that affects all spheres of social life in diverse ways. In the context of the spread of market economy structures, the materiality of everyday life and symbolic meanings of things are changing radically. At the same time, processes of social differentiation are being altered by the formation of new concepts of personhood and identity around consumption. With their marketing strategies and practices firms try to anticipate the consumers’ imaginations of the ‘good life’ and simultaneously produce such imaginations and create new markets. The workshop aims to investigate these economic and symbolic geographies of a ‘good life’ in different contexts, in order to work out common tendencies and differences demonstrating how the global blueprints of a free market society are mediated through historically grounded experiences and local social relations and how the new neoliberal economic structures are being normalized and legitimized in practices of consumption and marketing. We intent to exchange ideas about the role of consumption, marketing and “consumer capitalism” in the new market societies of Eastern Europe and develop further events, collaborative publications and projects in an interdisciplinary and international setting.

The workshop will start Thursday evening with a reception and last until Saturday afternoon. On Friday morning Ivaylo Ditchev (cultural anthropologist, Sofia University) will give a keynote lecture and we will present some results of our project on fashion brands in Bulgaria. In the afternoon we will continue with brief paper presentations (with an emphasis on discussion) and conclude the day in the evening with a conference dinner. On Saturday there will be some more presentations, but notably enough time for intense (group) discussions. For the late afternoon we offer a field trip in the city centre of Sofia.

We expect about 25 participants including scholars from various countries and disciplines (human geography, sociology, anthropology, semiotic studies, marketing) dealing with consumer studies in Eastern and Central Europe and related topics. There is still space for additional participants. Please contact us by March 31st 2012 if you are interested in participating and presenting a paper or serve as a discussant.

Ulrich Ermann, Christian Geiselmann and Yuliana Lazova

Contact: u_ermann@ifl-leipzig.de

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