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Call for Papers

Special Issue of Journal of Public Policy and Marketing on Subsistence Marketplaces

Editor: Madhu Viswanathan ([log in to unmask])

Overview of Topic


The term subsistence connotes the everyday struggle on the part of individuals, households and communities, to meet life’s basic needs. Much of the world’s population exists within subsistence marketplaces and a great deal of public policy has focused on improving the quality of life of individuals within these marketplaces. Subsistence marketplaces consist of consumer and entrepreneur communities living at a range of low-income levels. Such communities are concentrated in developing countries and regions such as Brazil, India, China, Vietnam, and Sub-Saharan Africa. Subsistence communities also exist side-by-side with more affluent communities in developed nations. Subsistence marketplace is also a term coined to represent the spirit of understanding these contexts in their own right, not merely as markets to sell to or as contexts for policy initiatives, but also as individuals, communities, consumers, entrepreneurs, and marketplaces from which to learn. Distinct from macro-economic approaches, or relatively meso-level business approaches to poverty, such as the Base-of-the-pyramid approach, the subsistence marketplaces approach takes a micro-level approach to gain bottom-up understanding of life circumstances and marketplace interactions of subsistence consumers and entrepreneurs. Such a micro-level perspective has the potential to provide insights into both market and policy initiatives that complement those provided by more macro-level and meso-level approaches.


By unpacking the life circumstances in poverty with particular emphasis on marketplaces, economic systems, and related policy implications, this approach has led to grounded insights on thinking patterns associated with low income and low literacy, affective elements, decision-making, relationships and exchanges in the marketplace, consumption and entrepreneurship, and market ecosystems. Such insights have also been used to derive implications for product development, enterprise models, public policy, and sustainable development, reflecting the bottom-up approach of deriving macro-level insights that are on based on nuanced, micro-level understanding of the phenomenon. Additional information is available at http://www.business.illinois.edu/subsistence.

In keeping with the mission of the Journal of Public Policy and Marketing, this special issue seeks papers that identify policy implications of research and theory that focus on an understanding of micro-level phenomena in subsistence marketplaces. While purely macroeconomic approaches to such marketplaces do not fit within this call, papers at the meso- or macro-level that are explicitly linked to the micro-level are welcome and encouraged. The goal of this special issue is to be inclusive, but with an explicit emphasis on the bottom-up approach to understanding marketplaces, policy, and the public interest that is often neglected in the study of poverty.


Background of Related Conference Series and Stream of Research


This call for papers especially welcomes papers presented at the Fifth Subsistence Marketplaces Conference held June 13-15, 2014, but it is open to any contributor(s) regardless of participation in the conference or prior conferences. In the last decade, the Subsistence Marketplaces Conference has been a leading forum for evolving and sharing research and fostering best practices in subsistence marketplace communities. Specific themes of the fifth conference include consumption and conservation, entrepreneurship, substantive domains of subsistence, diverse geographies, social innovation, and curricular innovation. The theme of consumption and conservation emphasizes the need to understand the environmental issues that impinge on day-to-day living and basic needs of members of subsistence economies and the broader global community of which they are a part. The theme of entrepreneurship covers the gamut from survival and subsistence to thriving and transformational. Additional information about the conferences is available athttp://www.business.illinois.edu/subsistence/events/conferences.html.


Suggested Topics


Potential topics may include the following:

                             Consumer behavior in subsistence marketplaces
                             Entrepreneurship in subsistence marketplaces
                             Substantive domains of subsistence (e.g., water, sanitation, energy, food)
                             Emergence of marketing systems
                             Environmentalism of subsistence consumers and consumer-merchants
                             Issues of environmental justice relating to subsistence marketplaces
                             Sustainable product design for subsistence marketplaces
                             Inventing and re-inventing new products and services for subsistence marketplaces
                             Organization design and re-design for operating in subsistence marketplaces
                             Collaborative models for business innovations
                             Supply chain and distribution challenges and opportunities
                             Pricing for value and sustainability
                             Marketing communication and education
                             Innovative research methods 
                             Economic and financial perspectives on subsistence marketplaces (e.g. financial literacy)
                             Health, well-being and justice in subsistence marketplaces
                             Merging social and business missions through social innovations
                             Incorporating business practices in nonprofit organizations developing social innovations
                             Social innovation alliances and partnerships among NGOs, governments, and businesses
Other topics are also welcome. All submissions should be explicit about public policy implications (e.g., what policies are informed, which policy makers would find results useful, what is demonstrated or implied for policy decisions). In the context of this special issue, as consistent with the mission of JPPM, the term “policy” is used in a very broad sense and is not restricted to government actions; it also includes policy implications for NGO’s, corporations, professional associations, and religious organizations, among others. Policy may also include encouraging or facilitating market or other non-governmental mechanisms to work through regulation and/or de-regulation, incentives, facilitation, social marketing, social entrepreneurship or other approaches to improving quality of life and promoting public interest.

Submission Deadlines: 

In order to assure publication of the special issue of JPPM in the fall of 2015 the timeline and deadlines for this special issue will be strictly followed. All papers will be peer reviewed. Papers in the review process will be rejected if the timeframe does not allow for timely revisions. However, such papers may be referred to the editor of JPPM for further review through the Journal’s normal review process.

August 1 to November 30, 2014:     Deadline window for paper submission

January 15, 2015:                               Feedback to authors after peer review

February 28, 2015:                             Deadline for revised submission

June 15, 2015:                                     Final deadline for subsequent revisions

Publication Submission Requirements


As per JPPM guidelines, which may be found at: https://www.ama.org/publications/JournalOfPublicPolicyAndMarketing/Pages/About.aspx

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