My research agenda aims to explore how various social phenomena that transform business and society are themselves shaped by an assemblage of cultural, technological and other material resources. Two of the currently most exciting changes are (1) society’s transition to sustainable production and consumption patterns and (2) how consumption experiences become more and more social – both in terms of relations between consumers (e.g., consumption communities) and new communication technologies (e.g., social media).

These trends guide my current research: I explore how consumers conceptualize their relationship with nature to deepen our understanding of sustainable consumption, and I explore consumers’ relationship with special objects to understand how they retain their individual autonomy within consumption communities. In addition to contributing to our understanding of sustainable consumption and tribal marketing, these research projects also offer conceptual contributions to an emerging “Material Turn” in consumer research that draws on material-semiotic theories of assemblage. The following figure summarizes my research agenda.

research agenda web - Joachim ScholzAssemblage theories decenter human agency by emphasizing how social phenomena – such as what it means to be a sustainable consumer, or how one can “stand out” and “fit in” a community at the same time – emerge in a dance of agency between human and non-human actors. In particular, I currently explore the concept of “nature agency” in my thesis research and the concept of “object agency” in a research project on the Engineering student community. In the future, I am going to also examine the role of new technologies in the shaping of sustainable consumption and the relationship between consumers and markets. Below you will find short descriptions of my ongoing research. You can explore these topics by following the links, and please contact me if you want to hear more about my research.


Working Title: Nature Agency and the Post-Humanizing of Sustainable Consumption

This thesis explores the meanings and practices of sustainable consumption by focusing on a core component of consumers’ quests for sustainable lifestyles: how they conceptualize their relationship with nature. It does so by investigating how consumers negotiate between romantic and utilitarian discourses of nature vis-à-vis their experiences of sometimes benign and sometimes threatening material forces of nature.


Integrated in this research stream is a focus on how nature is discursively constructed through advertisements:


Working Title: Living in Harmony with Nature is Less Harmonic than it Seems

This project is my first foray into exploring the relationship between humans and nature. It explores how “nature” is differently portrayed, or discursively constructed, in contemporary advertisements. In particular, I am interested to explore the nuances within the romantic ideal of harmony between humans and nature.


In addition to this research on sustainable consumption, I also explore issues of object agency within the context of consumption communities:


Working Title: How One Object Unites Us All, By Meaning Completely Different Things

This research project with the Engineering student community at Queen’s University explores object agency as a another form of non-human agency. In particular, it is asked how certain objects allow consumers to retain their individual autonomy within a consumption community at the same time as they are conforming to the norms and expectations of other community members.


Download Joachim’s CV here. Download Joachim’s Research Agenda here