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Selling pain to the saturated self

Scott, Rebecca ORCID:, Cayla, Julien and Cova, Bernard 2017. Selling pain to the saturated self. Journal of Consumer Research 44 (1) , pp. 22-43. 10.1093/jcr/ucw071

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How can we comprehend people who pay for an experience marketed as painful? On one hand consumers spend billions of dollars every year to alleviate different kinds of pain. On the other hand, millions of individuals participate in extremely painful leisure pursuits. In trying to understand this conundrum, we ethnographically study a popular adventure challenge where participants subject themselves to electric shocks, fire and freezing water. Through sensory intensification, pain brings the body into sharp focus, allowing individuals to rediscover their corporeality. In addition, painful extraordinary experiences operate as regenerative escapes from the self. By flooding the consciousness with gnawing unpleasantness, pain provides a temporary relief from the burdens of self-awareness. Finally, when leaving marks and wounds, pain helps consumers create the story of a fulfilled life. In a context of decreased physicality, market operators play a major role in selling pain to the saturated selves of knowledge workers, who use pain as a way to simultaneously escape reflexivity and craft their life narrative.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Business (Including Economics)
Publisher: Oxford University Press
ISSN: 0093-5301
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 21 November 2016
Date of Acceptance: 27 October 2016
Last Modified: 06 Nov 2023 20:34

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