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E-commerce and the restructuring of consumption


E-commerce and the restructuring of consumption
Report on the workshop
10th December 1999
Institute of Fiscal Studies, London



The workshop, under auspices of the Virtual Society? Programme, was organised by Dr. Peter Lunt with help from Stephen Cummaford.

The impetus for the workshop came from the idea that there were many researchers from a variety of disciplines currently working on e-commerce who had not had an opportunity to meet and discuss their work and the issues surrounding e-commerce.

Accordingly speakers were invited who a) were actively involved in e-commerce research b) represented a variety of disciplinary perspectives (Marketing, Economics, Psychology, Anthropology, Sociology, Geography, Communications). Speakers were drawn from a variety of universities in the UK, one speaker from the Consumers’ Association and we had three overseas speakers (2 from the US one from Sweden).

We were also fortunate to have the help of Jan Pahl, Steve Miles and Bron Szerszynski in chairing sessions and of Stephen Cummaford and Francis Djabri as administrators.

As well as the 10 speakers, we had 37 delegates who contributed to lively question sessions and engaged in lots of networking and discussion in the breaks and after the seminar.

The presentations were excellent. Alladi Venkatash presented a range of marketing models for e-commerce, Roger Moore of the Consumers’ Association discussed the economic perspective on choice and disintermediation in e-commerce, Kathy Hammond reported empirical research from the London Business School on users perceptions of e-commerce, Camilla Carlell presented a highly original talk on the phenomenology of e-commerce compared to traditional spaces of consumption, Andy Pratt of the LSE discussed his field work with start up companies in the states, Faith Noble of Keele discussed the implicit models of users in the development of financial services in e-commerce, Danny Miller presented his ethnographic study of e-commerce in Trinidad with fascinating insights into cultural dimensions of innovation in consumption, Charles Steinfield from Michigan State University discussed the lag in the development of e-commerce services for by local firms and Peter Lunt discussed some of the implications of developing e-commerce services for the relationship between retailers and customers.

The talks were well received and prompted lively and interesting discussions of a range of issues in e-commerce and a variety of quite different views about issues such as the effectiveness of e-markets, privacy and security, the relation between location and e-commerce, expertise in the provision and development of e-commerce services and consumers responses to e-commerce.

A website was established for the workshop ( with links to speakers websites and other related sites.

Since the workshop, we have received a number of emails and letters from delegates and speakers thanking us for a lively and well organised event that made connections between what had hitherto been a highly dispersed research community and requests for further workshops in the future!



The programme for the workshopis presented below.


9.00 - 9.30 Coffee and Registration

9.30 - 9.40 Peter Lunt, Welcome and Introduction

Session 1

Chair: Peter Lunt, University College London

9.40 - 10.20 Alladi Venkatesh, Virtual Models of Marketing and Consumer Behaviour.

10.20 - 11.00 Roger Moore, The Consumers’ Association, E-commerce and Consumer Choice: issues of price, preference and switching.


11.00 – 11.30 Coffee

Session 2

Chair: Steven Miles, UWE, Plymouth

11.30 - 12.10 Kathy Hammond, London Business School, Trust in an Online Environment.

12.10 - 12.50 Camilla Carlell, Stockholm School of Economics, Consumption out of Place Textures of Virtual Interactivity.

1.00 - 2.00 Lunch


Session 3

Chair: Jan Pahl, University of Kent at Canterbury

2.00 - 2.40 Andy Pratt, London School of Economics, Making and Closing the Envelope: stabilising new media

2.40 - 3.20 David Knights and Faith Noble, Nottingham University, "The customer is king" or "oranges and lemons"?: hype and reality in financial services

3.20 - 4.00 Danny Miller, University College London and Don Slater, Goldsmiths’ College, The Promise and Practice of E-commerce: an ethnographic approach.

4 – 4.30 Tea

Session 4

Chair: Bron Szerszynski, Lancaster University

4.30 - 5.10 Charles Steinfield, Michigan State University, Community Level Socio-Economic Impacts of ElectronicCommerce.

5.10 - 5.50 Peter Lunt, University College London and Liz Moor, Goldsmiths’ College, Knowledge Gaps in the Public Understanding of E- commerce.

6.00 - 7.30 Drinks in the Council Room, University College London

7.30 Dinner



For further information contact:

Peter Lunt (convenor)

Stephen Cummaford (administrator)

Telephone 07887 926154


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