Current research

Here I am writing about my current research and forthcoming articles

COLLABORATING WITH COMPANIES IN PROBLEM-BASED PROJECT WORK

Anne Grethe Julius Pedersen and Olga Gurova (submitted to Marketing Education Review)

The transition from university to a job represents a challenge to many students, in various ways. This paper presents and discusses a marketing education initiative that can improve students’ employability and thus make the entrance on the job market easier. The initiative involves a collaboration between a group of students and a company around a marketing related problem that the company is willing to share with students and get their input on. At Aalborg University, Denmark, the possibility for this kind of external collaboration is an integrated part of a Problem-Based Learning model (PBL) that promotes the interplay between higher education and social actors in the surrounding society. In the paper, we outline the process from establishing the first contact to completing the project work at an oral exam and discuss positive and negative aspects of the initiative in relation to improving student employability.

Key words: employability; PBL; external project collaboration

UNDERSTANDING FASHION SCANDALS

Annamari Vänskä and Olga Gurova (to be published by Bloomsbury)

At the end of 2010s fashion industry was shaken by incidents that brought accusation of fashion brands in lack of cultural sensitivity, cultural appropriation and racism. Among such incidents are H&M and the “Coolest monkey in the jungle” sweatshirt modeled by a black boy, Gucci and the sweater that resembles the offending image of blackface, Dior and the “Bihor Couture” collection, in which traditional Bihor clothing from Romania were used without acknowledging the inspiration. We conceptualize these incidents as ‘fashion scandals’, i.e. actions, statements or events created by fashion brands that caused strong emotional response of consumers. The aim of this paper is to look at the sociocultural meanings of the fashion scandals and make sense of them with the use of social and cultural theory and examples of the scandals.

Fashion scandals are often caused by reaction of consumers to images – marketing materials, design of material objects or advertising. Fashion advertising especially has been defined by an aim to shock the consumer and cause a scandal: we live in an era of overwhelming amount of visual information and many advertisers use shock as a strategy of grabbing attention. For these brands, using shock advertising has been a deliberate choice: to ‘offend the audience’ in order to be seen and remembered. Offense is often brought about by violating and transgressing social norms of decency, or by breaking social or moral codes of propriety. In this sense, the shocking images are more than just selling tools: they are social objects that are evaluated against the backdrop of culture, its norms, notions of good taste, moral standards and decency. Even though the use of shock effects in fashion images can be said to constitute a foundation for becoming noticed in the visualised consumer culture, recent fashion scandals reveal a shift from attention-grabbing marketing strategies towards a broader cultural change in fashion industry in which debates generated by brands have not so much to do with marketing strategies than with a broader concern with identity politics that these debates reflect in the latter part of the 2010s. In the core of many fashion scandals today, as we argue, is exactly the issue of identity politics that goes beyond the state-of-art understanding of fashion and identity. Since these attention-grabbing scandals have not led to increase in sales or contributed to the brand image as “dearing” or “cutting-edge” but rather to boycotts (e.g. D&G ad in China) and to establishing “diversity guidelines/ boards” (Gucci, Dior), we will discuss whether this connects the cultural change in fashion industry to 2010s being a “decade of identity politics” as argued by Fukuyama (2018).

Key words: fashion scandal, fashion brands, identity politics, racism, social media, diversity consultants

Cultural branding meets feminism in Russia: Applying poststructuralist discourse theory to the Reebok’s #BeMoreHuman advertising campaign

Olga Gurova and Tatiana Romashko (submitted to Journal of Marketing Management)

The article is built on the intersection between consumer culture theory, gender studies, and poststructuralist discourse theory. The article brings a methodology of poststructuralist discourse theory (Laclau & Mouffe 2001; Howarth 2002; 2013; Carpentier & Doudaki 2018) to marketing. This methodology assumes that identity (e.g., gender identity) has non-essentialist character. We claim that this contingent character of gender identity should be taken into account when global brands enter various national markets. Drawing from poststructuralist discourse theory of Laclau and Mouffe’s (2001), we will show the explanatory power of this analytical framework through a case study of a global campaign by the brand Reebok. We will also look at the advertising campaign of this brand in Russia and the reaction that it caused among consumers and other actors in the marketplace. Our discussion will revolve around gender identity in the context of ‘conservative turn’ in Russia’s national politics at the 2010s. This article will contribute to the literature on commodification of feminism and anti-feminism (Prügl 2015; Baer 2016; Rottenberg 2016; 2018) in an authoritarian society and to the scholarship on cultural branding (Holt 2003, 2004; Holt & Cameron 2010). The goal of this paper is to apply poststructuralist discourse theory, the concept of cultural branding and the ideas from feminist theory to interpret an advertising campaign of a global brand on a national market and the online firestorm that it caused. 

Key words: cultural branding, feminism, poststructuralist discourse theory, gender identity

ДИСКУРС-АНАЛИЗ: ОПЫТ ИСПОЛЬЗОВАНИЯ ПОСТСТРУКТУРАЛИСТСКОЙ ТЕОРИИ ДИСКУРСА

Ольга Гурова и Татьяна Ромашко (в печати)

В данной главе изложены основные предпосылки, принципы и понятия постструктуралистской теории дискурса (Laclau and Mouffe, 2001) и возможные способы ее применения в качестве метода анализа данных (Torfing, 1999; Jørgensen and Phillips, 2002; Howarth 2013). На конкретном примере продемонстрированы основные преимущества и ограничения аналитического потенциала постструктуралистского дискурс-анализа для проведения качественного исследования в социальных и гуманитарных науках.

Постструктурализм как направление философской мысли берет свои истоки в трудах Жака Дерриды, Фердинанда де Соссюра, Жака Лакана, Луи Альтюссера, Мишеля Фуко, Антонио Грамши и Стюарта Холла. Руководствуясь данными работами, Эрнесто Лакло и ШантальМуфф, разработали постструктуралистскую теорию дискурса и изложили ее в книге «Гегемония и социалистическая стратегия» (2001[1985]). В этой теории, дискурс понимается как социальный феномен, в котором идентичности и явления приобретают определенный смысл. Тем самым, изучение социальной реальности происходит преимущественно через анализ конфликтующих дискурсивных формаций или смысловых совокупностей. Для анализа Лакло и Муфф предложили такие категории, как артикуляция, элементы, моменты, узловая точка, логика эквивалентности и дифференциации, гегемония и антагонизм.

Несмотря на довольно сложный аналитический аппарат постструктуралистской теории дискурса, она имеет широкий спектр применения для объяснения значений социальных идентичностей, практик, отношений, институтов, ценностей и конфликтов и противоречий между ними. Из-за центрального места политической артикуляции, дискурс-анализ в постструктуралистской и пост-марксистской традиции в теории и на практике имеет отношение к изучению политики или к политической интерпретации феномена. Теория в таких исследованиях применяется гибко: как правило, каждое конкретное исследование подразумевает подбор эпистемологически непротиворечивых идей представителей постструктурализма и пост-марксизма, которые ложатся в основу теоретической части исследования. Данные для дискурс-анализа, основанного на теории дискурса Лакло и Муфф, могут быть в самых разных текстовых, визуальных и перформативных форматах (интервью, твиты и посты в социальных медиа, публичные акции, манифесты, политические документы, архивные данные и т.д.).

Ключевые слова: дискурс -анализ, постструктуралистская теории дискурса, Лакло и Муфф, прикладной анализ данных

A Future of Sustainable Wearables through Imaginaries of Designers

Chrissy Patton and Olga Gurova (submitted to Digital Creativity)

Smart clothing, like most wearable technology, has not yet reached great levels of acceptance or popularity and thus, is not mass-produced, meaning most existing examples result from experimental approaches. Such garments, however, have the potential to cause negative impact from a sustainability perspective due to the combination of the textile and technology industries which are notorious for having significant global impact. It is, therefore, important to study current designs in order to gain insight into sustainable design choices for smart clothing. This paper explores the future of smart clothing by applying the concept of sociotechnical imaginaries to look at how designers imagine and contribute to certain notions of sustainability and thereby, specific futures of clothing, through their respective designs.

Key words: wearable technology; smart clothing; sociotechnical imaginaries; sustainability; fashion design

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