CFK is a meeting place for researchers from different disciplines. By working together in interdisciplinary teams a more balanced, profound, and deeper understanding of consumption can be reached. The research at CFK embraces a broad variety of topics; such as children and food, fashion, gender and design, interior decoration and sustainable consumption. Read more about the current research projects below.
Current research projects:
> All aboard: Gender conscious design as potential for economic growth
> Children, food and health
> Children’s lifestyles and the obesity epidemic, CLOE
> Clothes and fashion
> Consumer culture in an age of anxiety
> Consumer logistics
> Culture together with children
> Digcon: Digitalizing consumer culture
> Food in Nordic everyday life
> Managing overflow
> The (un)sustainable package
The goal of this project is to, through scientific study based on gender theory, document and evaluate the initiative All Aboard. All Aboard was a project which resulted in the development of a concept leisure boat aimed at better representing the wishes that women who are potential leisure boat owners have on their boats.
What opportunities lie in the use of gender as a means to reach new markets and are there any problems involved in this? With the use of qualitative methods the strategies of the All Aboard group as well as their experiences of working with this innovation system will be investigated.
An expected result of the study is the development of a theoretical model that conveys knowledge and experience from All Aboard by identifying the strategies for gender growth that worked, disuss why they worked and problematize strategies that did not work.
Magdalena Petersson McIntyre, associate professor ethnology
Funded by Vinnova 2013
Digcon is an international interdisciplinary project that aims to study digital market devices through the lens of the shaping of product markets and consumption practices.
Mobile smartphones, laptops and tablets are omnipresent gateways to cyber activity, at work and at home, in education and consumption. Among these fields, the latter deserves particular attention: digital devices are not only consumed, they are also used increasingly by consumers along their consumption practices. In so doing, these devices contribute to the shaping of new consumer identities, and address issues in terms of gender, ethics, class, abilities and exclusions.
The project aims to contribute to the emerging tradition of practice-based approaches to consumption and particularly the study of market devices and their use in everyday markets. We use a multi-methodology approach in five work packages targeted at revealing different aspects of digitalized consumption. With a combination of common ethnographic qualitative and virtual ethnography but also historical methods, we will study digital consumption.
More about Digcon
Magdalena Petersson McIntyre (project leader), Centre for Consumer Science
Lena Hansson, Centre for Consumer Science,
Niklas Hansson, Centre for Consumer Science
Johan Hagberg, Centre for retailing, School of Business, Economics and Law at the University of Gothenburg
Hans Kjellberg, Stockholm School of Economics
Franck Cochoy, Université Tolouse II and visiting professor at the School of Business, Economics and Law, University of Gothenburg
Funded by the Swedish Research Council 2013-2016
The project investigates the everyday eating practices of four Nordic populations. How do people in Sweden, Denmark, Finland and Norway organize their daily eating? The aim is to understand modern living in more depth and to find out whether eating today is highly individualized largely neglecting old habits and norms regarding proper eating – or, whether these traditions still prevail.
The study of change and variation in food habits is an entrance to explore wider social themes, such as how modern living is structured by time rhythms and organization of society, how social relations are coordinated, how identity is reflected in daily consumption, how norms may differ from practices and how men and women differ with respect to daily habits and routines.
Current structures and emerging patterns in food purchase (e.g., convenience food), domestic food preparation, and eating away from home are critical not only for the development of new food products or service systems but also for public policies addressing both health and environmental issues.
The project will investigate the acquisition, preparation, timing, presentation, location, companionship, and selection of food using survey methodology including representative samples of four Nordic populations.
In addition, the study aims at methodological development to capture trends and social variations in eating patterns over time. It will link up to an earlier Nordic study from 1997, and thus offers a unique opportunity to study social change within a central area of contemporary consumption.
Professor Lotte Holm, professor at Copenhagen University is project coordinator. Read more at the projects homepage
Participating researcher from CFK:
Marianne Pipping Ekström, professor emerita
Funded by The Joint Committe for Nordic research councils in the Humanities and Social Sciences (NOS-HS) 2011-2014
Culture together with children: children and their families' participation in the development of The Children's Culture Centre.
KUMBA is a development and research project driven collaboratively by The Swedish School of Library and Information Science at the University of Borås and the Centre for Consumer Science at University of Gothenburg. The research team works in close cooperation with the department of Cultural Amenities in Borås and the project group for The Children's Culture Centre.
The idea behind The Children's Culture Centre is to develop a place for children up to 11 years old where, through the support of cultural experiences, they can be their own artists and story-tellers. The project is being developed through cooperation between the cultural institutions in Borås. The objectives of KUMBA are twofold: a) to follow the development process of The Room for Children’s Culture, and b) to develop a model for children’s and their caregivers’ participation in the design of cultural activities. The departure point for research is the international and cross-disciplinary field of Childhood Studies where concepts such as participation, competence and empowerment are continually challenged.
One of the research team's partners is the local organization for children and youth culture which is made up of representatives from the different cultural institutions in the town: The School of Arts and Culture, Borås Museum, the Art Centre, the Textile Museum, The City Library, the City Theatre, together with the department of Cultural Amenities. The other group with which the research team cooperates is made up personnel who work with activities The Children's Culture Centre as well as children with their caregivers who are the target group for the project; both those who take part in the activities as well as those who can be contacted in other places.
Barbro Johansson, Centre for Consumer Science
Frances Hultgren, The Swedish School of Library and Information Science at The University of Borås
Amira Sofie Sandin, The Swedish School of Library and Information Science at The University of Borås
KUMBA is planned as a three-year project from 2011-2013 and is, at present, partly funded by the Svea Bredal Fund.
"Managing Overflow" is a transdisciplinary research program, in which a combined team of ethnologists and management scholars proposes to explore examples of the complex phenomena in contemporary western societies gathered under an ambiguous label of overflow.
Overflow can be interpreted in terms of affluence and surplus, or wastefulness and overload. As a metaphor, overflow is a morally charged term, which implicitly signals development and directionality, at the same time alluding to the existence of some perceived point of equilibrium, balance or normality. It denotes a movement between different states and a transgression of borders.
This research program aims at exploring the tensions between these meanings, and the ethical, economic, and aesthetic consequences they have in everyday life and work. While firmly grounded in field studies, the program aims at constructing a theoretical frame of reference adequate for grasping the multiple variations of this phenomenon. We suggest an approach that will take temperature of both dramatic and mundane processes. Contrasting cases will be used to examine many of the taken-for-granted notions, and a historical perspective will assure a dynamic take on the phenomenon. Knowledge thus produced will be useful both to scholars and to a generally interested audience.
Program director: Professor Barbara Czarniawska , Gothenburg Research Institute at University of Gothenburg.
The program consists of six studies where of three will be carried out by researchers from the Centre for Consumer Science:
The other studies are:
Funded by Jan Wallanders and Tom Hedelius stiftelse 2010-2012
In the project the researchers are going to study how consumers bring home their everyday purchases from the store. The research team consists of researchers from the Centre for Consumer Science, the Center for Retailing and researchers from France and Britain.In this project, it is the consumers who walk, cycle or use public transportation which are in focus. How do consumers transport their purchases? What different types of bags, shopping bags and trolleys are used?
Scientists will make observations in public places to see how consumers carry their purchases. They will be interviewing families and elderly and also involve them as co-researchers. To get a better understanding of the phenomenon, the researchers will also study the history to see how the transportation of daily shopping has changed over time.
The project also includes the involvement of people whose work affects urban development such as town planners, managers of shopping malls and public transport operators. The research project is part of the URBAN-NET under the EU's 7th Framework Programme and administered by the Research Council Formas.
Researchers from the Centre for Consumer Science:
Helene Brembeck, professor ethnology
Ulrika Holmberg, PhD business administration (CFK/Centre for Retailing)
Niklas Hansson, PhD ethnology
Daniel Normark, PhD sociology
Other participating researcher from Sweden:
Johan Hagberg, PhD business administration (Centre for Retailing)
Participating researchers from France:
Franck Cochoy, professor sociology, Tolouse II University
Cedric Calvignac, PhD sociology, Tolouse II University
Roland Canu, associate professor sociology, Tolouse II University
Michèle Lalanne, associate professor sociology, Tolouse II University
Florence Brachet Champsaur, Phd student history, Ecole de Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales, Paris
Participating researchers from Great Britain:
Tim Dant, associate professor sociology, Lancaster University
Eric Laurier, associate professor human geography, University of Edinburgh
More about Consumer Logistics
Funded by the research council Formas 2010-2012. The project is a part of URBAN-NET
Consumer culture in an age of anxiety
Consumer culture in an age of anxiety, Conanx, will investigate consumer anxieties about food at a variety of geographical scales from the global scale of international food markets to the domestic scale of individual households. Conanx is led by Professor Peter Jackson at University of Sheffield. There are five work packages in the programme. Researchers from CFK participate, together with researchers from University of Sheffield, in work package 4: Consumer understandings of risk, anxiety and trust.
Consumer anxiety around food has been prompted by a series of recent 'food scares' from salmonella and e.coli to BSE (bovine spongiform encephalopathy) and human-variant CJD. Food producers and retailers have struggled to retain consumer confidence in food safety and quality, introducing a variety of technocratic responses to manage risk and reduce the hazards associated with modern methods of intensive farming and food production.
This work package consist of case studies that will use focus groups and interviews with consumers in Britain and Sweden to explore how consumer practices and attitudes to food are shaped by recent 'food scares' and associated public health campaigns. We shall investigate how consumers express their anxieties around food and in whom they place their trust. We will interview key players in a range of NGOs and campaign organisations who have sought to improve consumer understanding of food safety. The research will be conducted in Göteborg in Sweden and in London and Sheffield in the UK. The research will use newspaper and government archives to investigate the national context of recent food scares and to explore the public response to these issues.
Conanx is led by Professor Peter Jackson, with co-investigators in Sheffield (Dr Matt Watson) and Sweden (Professor Helene Brembeck) and with a team of researchers based in ICoSS, the University of Sheffield´s Interdisciplinary Centre of the Social Sciences, and at the Centre for Consumer Science (CFK) in Göteborg. Conanx homepage
Funded by the European Research Council 2009-2012
In this research project, fashion is studied from an historical perspective and the focus is on the economic aspects: How did the Swedish garment industry work with fashion during the second half of the 20th century? What strategies were used in relation to the opportunities of the growing market and the threats posed by the ever more hardening competition?
The aim of the project is to give an encompassing picture of the processes behind the developments which changed the industry from being a manufacturing one to an industry based upon the production of know-how. Even though practically no production remains in Sweden, knowledge of distribution and production continues to be central parts of a very vigorous sector.
Knowledge of fashion has become a central part of innovation and product development, being the source of most of the value creation in the industry. The traditional view is that the decline of Swedish production was caused by high wage costs during the post war period. In the project, a rather different hypothesis is applied: the situation was made worse by the emphasis that was put upon capital intensive solutions, which led to a relative neglect of questions that regarded fashion.
Carina Gråbacke, Associate professor economic history
Christofer Pihl, assistant researcher
Funded by Torsten och Ragnar Söderbergs stiftelser 2009-2011
Children, food and health. Exploring children's foodscapes with children as co-researchers
Children's food habits are generated in a diversity of arenas. This includes material settings such as school, the family home, food stores, restaurants and places where the children do sports or leisure activities. It also involves arenas where children get in touch with different messages and offers regarding food, such as advertisements or in media reports concerning food. Children also have many different values to relate to expressed by family and friends as well as marketing and governmental recommendations. These messages and values are also found in the places where children eat, so the boundaries between these arenas are almost non-existing. Together places and ideas comprise the children's foodscapes. Although children are able to make a change, this doesn't mean that they are always allowed to do so.
The main purpose of the PhD project is to increase the knowledge of children's foodscapes with children as co-researchers and to make visible and explore the relations of power that forms the reality of children. The power relations are also connected to categories such as generation, class, gender and ethnicity. What do children's foodscapes look like and what sort of messages do they meet there? Where do children place themselves in the power relations concerning food?
The methods include children as co-researchers. In the project children are seen as capable of understanding and exploring their surroundings. The participating children in the project are between the ages 10-12. They are going to explore and document their own foodscapes, by taking an active part in the fieldwork. This could be done by them taking photos, keeping a food diary, blogging, drawing pictures, doing interviews etc. Sandra will make her own parallel observations alongside with the children.
Sandra Hillén, PhD student etnology
The project is one of 14 PhD-projects that participate in the Graduate School of Environment and Health and is funded by University of Gothenburg, Chalmers University of Technology and Västra Götaland Region 2009-2012.
Packaging has become ever more important as a marketing tool for consumerism. The dilemma of packaging is characteristic of the consumer society, since marketing is dependent on attractive packaging but the waste problem belongs to an unsustainable lifestyle that can no longer be ignored.
The research project "The (un)sustainable package" deals with pressing questions in the field of packaging design, with economic, aesthetic, technical and environmental implications. Why do packages look and function as they do? What part do packages play in development towards a sustainable society? The approach is interdisciplinary with contributions from the arts, social sciences and technology. Three subsections of the project deal with the Swedish consumer package from the history of design perspective, the seductive potential of the package seen in a gender perspective and an analysis of design strategies for ecological food packaging.
"The Packaging Patrol" is a parallel project. Participants will cooperate, using their respective competences to study concrete objects at close hand. Methods include archival studies, visual analysis, consumer interviews and field studies. The guiding theory is Latour's actor-network theory (ANT).
The project "The (un)sustainable package" is based at HDK - the School of Design and Crafts at the University of Gothenburg. Lasse Brunnström is project leader. The other participating researchers are Karin Wagner at IT-universitetet, Magdalena Petersson at CFK - Centrum för Konsumtionsvetenskap and tekn.dr Annika Olsson at Förpackningslogistik vid Institutionen för designvetenskaper, LTH, Lunds universitet.
Participating researcher from CFK:
Magdalena Petersson McIntyre, PhD ethnology
Funded by Riksbankens Jubileumsfond and Vetenskapsrådet 2009-2011
Children’s lifestyles and the obesity epidemic, CLOE
The project is part of the multidisciplinary research programme Children's lifestyles and the obesity epidemic, placed at Institute of medicine, General medicine and public health at Göteborg University. The programme aims at developing methods for interventions to reduce overweight and obesity among children.
CFK:s part of the programme is a qualitative study of children's and parents attitudes concerning food and health. 12 families with children aged 5-9 participated. The aim is to reach a deeper understanding of everyday life in regard to food and of parents' and children's thoughts and opinions of food and health. The researchers visited each family three times and carried out interviews. The parents took photos of their foodscapes and saved receipts and the children made collages and drawings.
Particpating researchers from CFK:
Barbro Johansson, associate professor ethnology
Eva Ossiansson, researcher business administration
Funded by FAS and Swedish Research Council 2007-2012