Maíra Magalhães Lopes defended her thesis on November 30 2018 at the Stockholm Business School, Marketing Section. Maíra Magalhães Lopes, who comes from Brazil, began her doctoral education at Stockholm Business School 2013.

Three questions to Maíra Magalhães Lopes:

Maíra Magalhães Lopes

Maíra Magalhães Lopes with her thesis The Making of Us

1. Can you tell us about the background to your choice of subject for your thesis?

That is actually a very long story because the thesis has changed a lot since I started the doctoral program at SBS. My research proposal for the PhD program was about place branding. However, with the support of my supervisor, I already started to rethink this possibility in the very early stages of the doctoral program. By the time I had my thesis proposal, the project was about crowdfunding as an alternative mode of consumption. The idea was to study 3-5 cases of projects that were financed by crowdfunding campaigns. One of these projects was the Festival Baixo Centro (Low Center Festival, in English). This festival was organized by the urban activism collective Baixo Centro (BxC). I got to know them before the PhD program. They emerged in 2011, when some residents of São Paulo felt that the city was ‘closing down’ and started to advocate for ‘more humane’ public policies in the city center of São Paulo, where I used to live. The BxC Festival came into being via a crowdfunding campaign in order to resist unjust forms of policy enforcement and pro-market public policy.

Even though I had other crowdfunding projects, the BxC case started to glow and grow throughout the research process. The participants started to tell me many stories, I started to read all the e-mails they exchanged throughout the years. Then, in a mentoring session during a course I did at Bilkent University, I was presenting my crowdfunding cases to a renowned scholar of CCT (Consumer Culture Theory) and she suggested me to focus on BxC because they seemed to be a very interesting phenomenon. I really liked the idea - it just made sense! Back then, I was struggling to make sense of my data with the other cases. So, I dropped all the other cases and suddenly the data started to make more sense. Well, a bit more sense! BxC then became my central case, my starting point. Anyway, it was not exactly a choice. It was a long process of refining the theme of what the thesis would be about. In academic terms, we say it is was an ‘iterative process’. That is, throughout the research process, I kept interpreting and refining the research problem, sharpening new research questions, producing additional data, and refuting theoretical concepts as well as finding more suitable theoretical concepts.


2. What methods did you use for your research and how did you work with collection and analyzing your data?

I adopted three methodologies: ethnography, autoethnography, and affective methodologies. These methodologies overlap, as autoethnography can be positioned as a type of ethnography and affective methodology. Yet, the three of them had different roles in the research process. For example, I adopted the ethnographic approach in order to foreground the sensemaking processes between culture and its manifestations. That is, by adopting ethnography, I was aiming to understand the culture of my empirical context. By adopting autoethnography, I tried to make sense of the surfaces of my own body as they are mediated by affect/emotion. I then used my personal experiences to understand social and the political aspects of the empirical context, which I was also part of. For example, they helped me sensitize myself as both a Brazilian and a Swedish PhD student studying a Brazilian context that is linked to a global phenomenon (i.e., gentrification). The autoethnographic techniques helped me to reflect, compare, and understand how my body acts and reacts in São Paulo and Stockholm. Regarding affective methodologies, they helped me to be more reflexive about my bodily surfaces and be more sensitive to embodied affective reactions of others and mine. This embodied sensitiveness helped me to have insights about how affect can travel differently according to different bodily readings. It was a really interesting process – not only for the research, but also for myself!


3. What conclusions did you make?

The findings of the thesis resonate with four on-going conversations in consumer research literature. The main contribution of this study regards the formation of collective bodies. I explored how the formation of the collective body is a continuous affective process that unfolds into different forms of multiplicities: crowds and packs. The study proposed a way to see the collective body as a continuous process of affective amalgamation - instead of a closed, stable entity formed by individuals driven by rational choice. Secondly, I also interlink felt experiences with surfacing effects of the body. In other words, I elaborate on how affects work delineating the relation between and of bodies and, thereby, mark what we understand as me, you, us, and them. The third contribution of the study regards theoretical discussions of space and place in marketing. In the thesis, I elaborate on spatial injustices and neoliberal cities, which are driven by wider consumption ideology. My last contribution is more a response to a methodological discussion than a conclusion. Throughout the doctoral process, I have adopted affective attuning techniques to understand aspects that are hard to capture with conventional methods. The thesis responded to a call in my research stream, CCT, for adoption of methodological alternatives that have potential to foreground affective processes.