Between cultural appreciation and cultural appropriation: self-authorizing the consumption of cultural difference

Angela Gracia B. Cruz, Yuri Seo, Daiane Scaraboto

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


Countervailing discourses of cultural appreciation versus cultural appropriation are fueling a tension between the ethnic consumer subject, who views the consumption of cultural difference as a valorized identity project, and the responsibilized consumer subject, who is tasked with considering the societal impacts of such consumption. Drawing on an extended qualitative investigation of international K-pop consumers, this study illustrates that this tension spurs consumers to pursue self-authorization - the reflexive reconfiguration of the self in relation to the social world - through which consumers grant themselves permission to continue consuming cultural difference. Four consumer self-authorization strategies are identified: reforming, restraining, recontextualizing, and rationalizing. Each strategy relies upon an amalgam of countervailing moral interpretations about acts of consuming difference, informing ideologies about the power relationships between cultures, and emergent subject positions that situate the consuming self in relation to others whose differences are packaged for consumption. Findings show notable conditions under which each self-authorization strategy is deployed, alongside consumers' capacity to adjust and recombine different strategies as they navigate changing sociocultural and idiographic conditions. Overall, this study advances understanding of how consumers navigate the resurgent politics of marketized cultural diversity in an era of woke capitalism.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)962-984
Number of pages23
JournalJournal of Consumer Research
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2024


  • consumer reflexivity
  • cultural appropriation
  • cultural diversity
  • K-pop
  • responsibilization

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