ESRC First Grants Scheme                         


Negotiating managed consumption: young people, branding and social identification processes


Principal Investigator: Dr Andrew Bengry-Howell, Psychology, University of Bath


Mentors: Professor Christine Griffin, Psychology, University of Bath

Professor Isabelle Szmigin, The Business School, University of Birmingham

Dr Sarah Riley, Psychology, University of Bath                


Research Assistant:

Dr Yvette Morey, Psychology, University of Bath


The corporate branding of youth culture is well documented, but how young people engage with contemporary branding and marketing practices has received far less attention. This project brings together debates in Marketing, Social Geography and research from the Social Psychology of Consumption to investigate how young people negotiate and position themselves in relation to branded leisure spaces, and contemporary forms of ‘experiential’, ‘emotional’ and viral marketing. The study will consider how young people negotiate commercially constituted spaces that are designed to offer them the opportunity to be ‘free’ and authentically ‘themselves’. It compares two types of music-related leisure event: Music festivals and free parties, both of which play a significant role in young adults’ lives, but have different levels of commercial involvement. Music festivals are increasingly branded events with substantial levels of commercial involvement, and relatively managed and regulated forms of consumption on offer. Free parties, by contrast, involve minimal levels of commercial involvement and have a history of opposition to a consumerist ethos. The project investigates the ways in which young adults position themselves and others in relation to the forms of branding, marketing and consumption on offer at these different leisure sites.


For more information please contact:


Dr Andrew Bengry-Howell

Department of Psychology

University of Bath

Claverton Down