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date: 15 November 2019

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter reviews to what extent, and in what ways, contemporary studies of consumption have addressed how people create, maintain, and transform meaningful social relations as they engage in consumption. The chapter presents the origins, definitions, and applications of the relational work concept, which puts negotiation of meaningful social-economic relations at its core. It then proceeds to identify four streams of research where attention to relational work can advance our understanding of consumption, including how consumers (a) earmark their money, (b) build trust or repair mistrust in exchanges, (c) negotiate power and inequality through consumption practices, and (d) walk the terrain of morally tinged commodification.

Keywords: relational work, earmarking, trust, inequality, moral markets

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