Associate Professor Ashlee Humphreys is a sociologist who examines core topics in consumer behavior and marketing strategy. She studies the role of institutions in markets and the influence of language on both consumer judgments of legitimacy and the broader process of legitimation. She is the author of Social Media: Enduring Principles (Oxford UP 2016), and her work has been published in the Journal of Marketing, the Journal of Consumer Research, and the Journal of Marketing Research. She serves as an Associate Editor for the Journal of Marketing and the Journal of Consumer Research.
Following from her work on legitimacy, Humphreys has applied institutional theory to study sustainability as a cultural discourse and set of institutional practices. Her research in this area examines the emergence of sustainability from previous forms of environmentalism, the role of media discourse in shaping consumer perceptions of oil spills, and the ways in which sustainability is interpreted differently according to differences in social class. She has also applied this work on legitimacy to better understand the role of product form in the legitimation process, and to look at how firms build and maintain status to drive markets.
In Social Media: Enduring Principles (Oxford University Press, 2016), Professor Humphreys provides a review and synthesis of the empirical social science research on social media. Her research on social media includes a project looks at the development of norms and institutions on Wikipedia and another project assesses the creation of value on YouTube. Lastly, she is interested developing theories for understanding fundamental consumer institutions such as ownership. Her work in this area proposes that consumption can be viewed in terms of access rather than ownership, a model that is useful for understanding the ways in which consumers use media properties and shared resources.
Professor Humphreys received her PhD in Marketing in 2008 from Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University with a focus on Cultural Sociology. Her dissertation research examined how markets are created through shifts in social structure using the case of casino gambling in America. This research was selected as a lead article in the Journal of Marketing and was runner up for the Maynard Award for best paper in Marketing. Humphreys also won the Sidney J. Levy award in 2010 for the contribution of her dissertation research to Consumer Culture Theory.
In all of this work, she has developed and refined the method of automated text analysis, or using computers to analyze textual data, a method she helped introduce to Marketing.