How Social Media Influencers Impact Consumer Collectives: An Embeddedness Perspective

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Research has documented the emergence of embedded entrepreneurs within consumer collectives. This phenomenon is increasingly prevalent as social media enables ordinary consumers to become social media influencers (SMIs), a distinct form of embedded entrepreneur. Whilst research has considered the implications of embeddedness for embedded entrepreneurs themselves, we lack insight into embedded entrepreneurship's impact on consumer collectives. To address this gap, we draw from a longitudinal, qualitative study of the YouTube beauty community, where SMIs are pervasive. Informed by interactionist role theory, we document the Polanyian "double movement"prompted by the emergence of SMIs within the community. We demonstrate that the economy within the community was initially highly embedded, constrained by behavioral norms linked to established social roles. SMIs' attempts to disembed the economy created dysfunctional role dynamics that reduced the benefits of participation for non-entrepreneurial community members. This prompted a countermovement whereby SMIs and their followers attempted to re-embed SMIs' economic activity via role negotiation strategies. Our analysis sheds new light on the negative implications of embedded entrepreneurship for non-entrepreneurial members of consumer collectives, highlights the role of social media platforms in negotiations of embeddedness, and advances wider conversations surrounding the evolution of consumer collectives and the impact of SMIs.




Mardon, R., Cocker, H., & Daunt, K. (2023). How Social Media Influencers Impact Consumer Collectives: An Embeddedness Perspective. Journal of Consumer Research, 50(3), 617–644.

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