by: Yann Gourvennec

All the world’s a stage and all the men and women merely players … (1)

Our friend Markus Giesler is assistant professor of marketing at York University’s Schulich School of Business in Toronto, ON, Canada. He is also the author of a previous article on Napster (the anthropology of file sharing, consuming Napster as a gift). Here is his new opus in which he compares marketplaces with drama.

How do markets change? Findings from a 7-year longitudinal processual investigation of consumer performances in the war on music downloading suggest that markets in the cultural creative sphere (those organizing the exchange of intellectual goods such as music, movies, software, and the written word) evolve through stages of perpetual structural instability. Each stage addresses an enduring cultural tension between countervailing utilitarian and possessive ideals.

Grounded in anthropology and consumer behavior, I illustrate this historical dynamic through the process of marketplace drama, a fourfold sequence of performed conflict among opposing groups of consumers and producers. Implications for theorizing on market system dynamics and the consumption of performance are offered.

(1) from Shakespeare’s as you like it, 1600

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