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Mobile Trust Regimes and the Cultural Omnivore’s Dilemma

Sun, August 11, 12:30 to 2:10pm, Sheraton New York, Floor: Lower Level, Flatiron

Abstract

In terms of consumption and markets we can describe our global, digital world as one of both “omnivorousness” and “authenticity”: an unprecedented amount of available options for discerning consumers in search of consumable entities with distinct provenance. But how do such consumers come to trust the aesthetic value of what they are invited to consume? In this paper, we argue that the rise of cultural omnivores has complicated established notions of how markets generate trust and form attachments between consumers and products. To explain this shift in market organization and behavior, we propose the concept of “mobile trust regimes,” or the devices and practices that construct and translate trust and legitimacy for a particular set of consumers. As opposed to established trust regimes that rely on institutionally-based standards (disembedded) and community-based forms of tradition (embedded) to convey trust, we show how mobile trust regimes use material and narrative forms to both attach cultural omnivores to authentic goods and position them as co-creators of the aesthetic logics that underpin this attachment and construction of trustworthiness. We conclude by discussing how mobile trust regimes imply a new mode by which trust is offered to consumers as a basis for attachment.

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