Digital Nomadism as a Critique of Modern Life: The Role of Consumption

Aleksandrina Atanasova

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

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This dissertation focuses on an articulation of the modern lived experience where fading traditions and shifting social norms are reshaping society in significant ways, while universal precarity and loss of hope in the future have become prominent features of the sociocultural landscape. Drawing on theories of liquid modernity and liquid consumption, three papers – two empirical and one conceptual – explore how consumers adapt and respond to these dynamics and answer to the overarching research question “how does living a liquid modern life shape and is shaped by consumption?” This question is explored ethnographically and netnographically with a three-year study of digital nomadism – a hypermobile lifestyle that closely reflects the multitudes of reconfigurations of life in liquid modernity. Collectively, the papers in this dissertation contour cultural and behavioral shifts where individuals drift away from traditional social roles and structures to seek alternative ways of being in the world in a critical quest to escape from the hegemonies of everyday life and to manage uncertainty. This dissertation unravels how consumption intersects with these dynamics and traces how consumers navigate this modern environment by drawing on new logics of consumption in the marketplace. Three shifts in the consumption behavior landscape are demonstrated: how consumers escape lived reality through consumption; how they attain symbolic capital, build image and pursue happiness in the absence of ownership; and how they find stability and security in an era of precarity. This dissertation contributes to consumer research by expanding the theoretical footprint of liquid consumption through leveraging it as a lens to revisit three foundational marketing constructs – marketplace utopias, materialism, and consumer security. Contributions to the domains of liquid consumption, utopian consumption, materialism, consumer security, and digital nomadism are discussed, alongside implications for marketing practice in retailing, experiential and symbolic consumption.
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Royal Holloway, University of London
  • Eckhardt, Giana M., Supervisor
  • Husemann, Katharina, Supervisor
Award date1 Sept 2021
Publication statusUnpublished - 12 Nov 2021


  • liquid consumption
  • consumer culture theory
  • digital nomads
  • materialism
  • consumer security
  • utopia
  • consumer behavior
  • Bauman

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