Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Business Administration (PhD)

Degree Level





Jeff Murray

Committee Member

Ronn Smith

Second Committee Member

Robin Soster


Brand, Ethnography, Marketing, Mutuality, Retail, The Gift


This dissertation, arranged in three essays, is grounded firmly in the crossroads of sociology and marketing. Theories of the former inform phenomena of the latter. In particular, the sociological theory of the gift and the rich tradition of anti-utilitarian social science inform contemporary debate regarding the rise of the sharing economy and its much-heralded potential to alter the landscape of the market. Through an ethnography of brand and retail service settings in the particular context of American craft beer festivals, the concept of mutuality is used to provide a line of demarcation between effective and ineffective forms of the sharing economy. The first essay is a conceptual treatment of the theory of the gift and its applicability to modern marketing strategy. The second essay delves into the aforementioned ethnographic data to derive insights for managers and theoreticians on the benefits of effective participation in the sharing economy. The third essay provides a practical take on the abstract and at times esoteric concepts underlying the theory to bolster the utility of the findings for practitioners. Throughout the essay, the efficacy of mutuality and gift theory for resolving tensions and simplifying conundrums in the relevant literature is discussed in detail.

Included in

Marketing Commons