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Celebrity Culture: what’s it got to do with me?

By Ashleigh Logan - Posted on 7 June 2013

Ashleigh Logan reflects on the impact networking has had on her first year as a doctoral student, exploring celebrity consumption in consumer culture, at Strathclyde Business School’s Department of Marketing…

Having completed a Masters degree in a similar subject, I decided to focus on celebrity consumption in consumer culture, specifically looking at how consumers incorporate celebrity culture into their own values and lifestyles.

While the PhD experience can be confusing and even intimidating at times, I was determined to make the most of it, so I decided to take on as much advice, and as many different perspectives, as possible from day one.

My research touches on everything from philosophy and anthropology to media studies, so my PhD supervisors suggested I apply to take part in the 2013 ‘Consumption, Markets and Culture’ seminar, a week-long series of talks and workshops at Bilkent University in Ankara, Turkey.

I quickly began to realise the workshop would not only give me the opportunity learn from today’s leading consumer culture and consumption academics, like Russell Belk, John Deighton and Guliz Ger, but would also provide me with the chance to engage with other doctoral students - the next generation of thought leaders in my field. That’s when the nerves kicked in.

On the first day the group was split into three smaller research groups, each focused on a differing area of consumer culture, to hear presentations from ‘mentor’ academics. With topics as diverse as the study of extreme fitness fanatics, the behaviour of motorbike enthusiasts and football fan rivalry, the discussions encouraged us to share ideas and exchange insights from our own individual research areas.

The sheer range and breadth of consumer culture and consumption research became a central theme throughout the week.

We were re-united as a group from the second day onwards and, as each mentor gave their insights into their different theories, their individual approaches and motivations became clear. Sharing tips on writing, surviving academia and talking about their success and failures, the mentors gave us all an insight into how to succeed in our PhDs.

Whether it was Russell Belk walking us through how he revises and resubmits research papers, Guliz Ger talking to us about her passion for research or John Deighton explaining how to structure thoughts and arguments, each discussion gave me a fresh insight.

Perhaps most importantly however, hearing from these leading academics and talking to my fellow doctoral students over lunch and dinner – often with the accompaniment of beer, red wine and Turkish dancing, taught me there really are no wrong or right answers when it comes to research.

As Steve Miles, author of Consumerism: As a way of life, said; “Theorising…. is about balancing your own reflexivity, your sense of what you do and how it impacts on what you do with an ability to provoke and surprise.”

Have you completed a PhD? Are you considering one? Let us know in the comments below:

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