Call for Papers

The Journal of Consumer Affairs announces a special issue on

“Consumer Affairs in Subsistence Marketplaces”


Special issue editors:

Madhu Viswanathan, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, [log in to unmask]

Ronika Chakrabarti, Lancaster University, [log in to unmask]

Paul Ingenbleek, Wageningen University, [log in to unmask]

Srinivas Venugopal, University of Vermont, [log in to unmask]


The Journal of Consumer Affairs (JCA) invites papers for a special issue on consumer affairs in subsistence marketplaces. Subsistence marketplaces consist of consumer and entrepreneur communities living at a range of low income levels, and are concentrated in developing countries and regions such as Brazil, India, China, Vietnam, and Sub-Saharan Africa. Additionally, many individuals in developed countries also live in subsistence. 

For more than a decade, the Subsistence Marketplaces Conferences have been a leading forum for evolving and sharing research and fostering best practices for improving quality of life in these communities. The subsistence marketplaces approach is unique in examining the intersection of poverty and marketplaces with a bottom-up approach that begins with micro-level understanding of life circumstances of consumers, entrepreneurs, and communities. This stream has been reflected in seven biennial conferences, one immersion conference[1],  and almost 60 refereed articles in related special journal issues (, as well as in dedicated session tracks at other conferences and refereed articles in a variety of journals. The current call flows from the Seventh Conference on Subsistence Marketplaces, held in June 2018, but is also open to authors who did not attend this conference.

The conferences cover themes from consumption and entrepreneurship beyond literacy and resource barriers to consumption and commerce for a better world, impactful research to sustainable innovation, micro-level insights to macro-level impact, spanning geographies and substantive domains, and developing pathways at the intersection of research and practice. 

Encouraging scholarship on subsistence marketplaces addresses one of the most critical and enduring ethical challenges faced by society - that of global poverty. A central theme is how to increase quality of life for people living in subsistence marketplaces. Research on subsistence marketplaces holds the potential to uncover important insights on how poverty intersects with major societal trends of today such as climate change, refugee crises, income inequality and rapid technological advancements. Obtaining deep understanding of these issues will be crucial to advancing well-being in subsistence contexts. 

The following are suggestions for topics; however, submissions may go beyond these topics.

      Consumer behavior in subsistence marketplaces;

      Substantive domains of subsistence (e.g., water, sanitation, energy, food);

      Powerlessness of consumers in subsistence marketplaces;

      Access to innovation and consumer products in impoverished rural areas;

      Interventions to increase quality of life in subsistence marketplaces;

      Environmentalism of subsistence consumers and consumer-merchants;

      Issues of environmental justice relating to subsistence marketplaces;

      Pricing for value and sustainability;

      Economic and financial perspectives on subsistence marketplaces (e.g., financial literacy);

      Health, well-being, and justice in subsistence marketplaces;

      Research methods for subsistence marketplaces.


Researchers in all relevant fields are encouraged to submit their work. Manuscripts may be submitted online through Scholar One Manuscripts. Style guidelines and publishing requirements can be viewed online at Please contact the issue editors or the Journal office [[log in to unmask]] for further information.

Submission deadline: January 15th 2019

[1] Recently, the first bottom-up immersion conference in subsistence marketplaces was held January, in India, highlighted by conversations and observations in subsistence marketplaces.

Madhu Viswanathan                                                              

Professor/Diane and Steven N. Miller Centennial Chair in Business 

Gies College of Business

University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign

183 Wohlers Hall, 1206 South Sixth Street, Champaign, IL 61820

Phone: 217-333-4550; Fax: 217-244-7969; email: [log in to unmask]                                    


Subsistence Marketplaces Initiative:

Non-profit website:

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