Mark Tomlinson and Andrew McMeekin

The existence of consumption routines is particularly significant for those interested in the diffusion of innovative consumer products. The implication is that existing routines need to be modified or broken for innovation to succeed. Product ranges are designed so that a hierarchy of products are offered to different social groups. Advertisements are also created and presented in a manner to make clear the social significance of consuming a certain good. The chapter defines a consumption routine as an executable capability for repeated consumption that has been learned or acquired by groups of consumers in response to social pressures or contexts. This notion of routine is taken from evolutionary economics, but is modified to take account of the sociology of consumption, in an explicit attempt to combine insights from both economic and sociological approaches. This chapter looks at the routine nature of food consumption and shows that both persistent social class and social mobility are significant determinants of changing routines, but operate in different ways for different foods.

in Innovation by demand
Open Access (free)
An interdisciplinary approach to the study of demand and its role in innovation

This book brings together a range of sociologists and economists to study the role of demand and consumption in the innovative process. Starting with a broad conceptual overview of ways that the sociological and economics literatures address issues of innovation, demand and consumption, it goes on to offer different approaches to the economics of demand and innovation through an evolutionary framework, before reviewing how consumption fits into evolutionary models of economic development. The book then looks at food consumption as an example of innovation by demand, including an examination of the dynamic nature of socially constituted consumption routines. It includes an analysis of how African Americans use consumption to express collective identity and discusses the involvement of consumers in innovation, focusing on how consumer needs may be incorporated in the design of high-tech products. It also argues for the need to build an economic sociology of demand that goes from micro-individual through to macro-structural features.

Andrew McMeekin, Ken Green, Mark Tomlinson, and Vivien Walsh

This book offers broad conceptual overviews of ways that the sociological and economics literatures address issues of innovation, demand, and consumption. It looks at the sociological literature on consumption, focusing on research that offers alternative or complementary views to the concepts of ‘conspicuous consumption’ and individual choice. It also argues that there is more to the economics of consumption than the mainstream economists' paradigm of utility maximisation, reviews how consumption fits into ‘evolutionary’ models of economic development, examines the routine nature of food consumption, analyses how African Americans use consumption to express collective identity, discusses the involvement of consumers in innovation, considers users and how their needs may be incorporated (successfully or otherwise) in the design of high-tech products, and stresses the need to build an economic sociology/political economy of demand that goes from micro-individual through to macro-structural features.

in Innovation by demand