Consuming material authenticity in the age of digital reproduction

Christina Goulding, Maud Debraix

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose: To examine how and why an 'old' technology and mode of consumption – vinyl records, which should have become obsolete, has managed not only to survive, but revive in the face of supposedly cheaper and superior digital formats.

Methodology: We employed Constructivist Grounded Theory (CGT), a methodology rooted in pragmatism. We acknowledge the primacy of relational, conversational and social practices as the source of individual and social life, and that all knowledge is local and the product of negotiation between people within a given context and time frame. In terms of data we draw on the extensive use of memos and participatory observation at the oldest vinyl record store in the UK. We also draw on interviews with the store owner and workers, and in depth
interviews with vinyl enthusiasts.

Findings: We argue that authenticity is not a fixed and static concept but has fluid and porous boundaries that can be experienced by individuals in different situations. Our findings center around three experiences of authenticity - staged authenticity, interpersonal authenticity and intrapersonal/existential authenticity.

Originality/value: Originality lies in theoretically positioning the phenomenon within a conceptual framework of authenticity. In particular we shed light on the role that authenticity plays in the experiences of vinyl music consumption amongst buyers and sellers in a store that has a long established heritage. We find that vinyl in the age of digital reproduction retains and maintains a number of qualities that are missing from allegedly superior forms of musical reproduction. We further maintain that as it has aged, original vinyl has taken on
greater power and meaning, and now that it is out of the realm of mass
production/consumption, has opened up a deeper more authentic interaction between human beings and technology. This deeper interaction goes beyond the immediate experience with the object itself and extends to the sensorial, the social and the personal.
Original languageEnglish
Article numberEJM-10-2017-0717.R3
Number of pages35
JournalEuropean Journal of Marketing
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 6 Nov 2018


  • vinyl records
  • social constructionist grounded theory
  • authenticity
  • digital reproduction


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