University of South Carolina prof. David Crockett discusses research on intersection of race and consumerism


Sammi Boas/ The Daily Northwestern

Michelle Weinberger moderates a question and answer session with speaker David Crockett.

Sammi Boas, Reporter

David Crockett, professor of marketing at the Darla Moore School of Business at the University of South Carolina, spoke about his research on the role of race and racism in the marketplace.

Crockett described the field of marketing as “axiologically thin.” In his work, Crockett said, he tries to talk across different disciplines of marketing and view race, racialization and racism in the marketplace with a broader lens.

“We need a deeper and richer understanding of how racism operates in the marketplace specifically because that’s where most people experience it,” Crockett said. “A lot of what we do is about all these other settings: the workplace, criminal justice. All these things are super important, but I would say, generally, we’ve paid less attention to what happens in the marketplace.”

During the presentation, Crockett discussed the various papers and projects he has worked on throughout his career, starting with a paper on dress codes in public schools. He then wrote his dissertation on Milwaukee, a city characterized by its racial segregation.

Drawing on the question of stigma management, Crockett discussed racial uplift ideology and respectability politics. Crockett broke down different strategies of using respectability politics as ways of reducing stigma.

Medill prof. Michelle Weinberger shared the same dissertation advisor as Crockett and helped organize the event.

“I don’t think we talk enough about race, racism and racialization in the marketplace at Medill, and it’s something we’re trying to change,” Weinberger said. “I thought it would be exciting for our faculty, students and staff to hear from him for both their own research but also for changing how they’re thinking about their lectures and what they’re teaching in classes.”

Crockett’s recent work, that has yet to be published, mapped the different impacts of race, racism and racialization at the micro, meso and macro levels. By mapping out the different arenas of marketing research regarding race, Crockett wants researchers to talk across their respective fields and unpack some of the complications that come with discussing race in the marketplace.

Apart from his research, Crockett is working with Sephora to study racial bias and exclusionary treatment in retail settings.

Medill Dean Charles Whitaker said that introducing race theory into the Medill curriculum through speakers like Crockett is something Medill is working on. Whitaker said having a better theoretical framework to think about journalism and marketing would be beneficial for students.

“Studying race, which is a social construct, is a very complicated thing,” Whitaker said. “It’s far more nuanced than we tend to think it is. It’s not for a lack of a better term, black or white; there are lots of shades of gray, and this kind of theoretical framing helps us think about it in a much more sophisticated way.”

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