Consumer‐Interest Study in Higher Education: A Conceptual Analysis of an Emerging Discipline


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The study of the consumer interest in higher education is currently represented by departments, program areas, and curricula with a wide variety of titles (e.g., “consumer economics” and “consumer affairs”) and emphases (e.g., consumer purchase decisions and public policy formulation. This diversity of titles and emphases is indicative of the current lack of agreement concerning the focus, scope and direction of the field as a whole. The authors propose a disciplinary rationale which integrates the many approaches to consumer‐interest study while distinguishing it from the traditional disciplines to which it is most closely related: economics, home economics, and marketing. It is argued that consumer‐interest study has a distinct content focus and distinct dimensional properties which qualify it for separate disciplinary status. The authors further propose that the emerging discipline be known as “consumer science” since that title appropriately encompasses both the field's current characteristics and its anticipated development.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)267-287
Number of pages21
JournalJournal of Consumer Affairs
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1980


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