Subsistence marketplaces at the confluence of culture, poverty, and low literacy: Materially poor but relationally rich?

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


The bottom-up approach adopted in the stream of work on subsistence marketplaces is at the confluence of culture, low income, and low literacy. It is ideally suited to understand distinct markets, relationally rich yet materially poor contexts, and diverse cultures at a granular level. In comparing cultures and contexts, we highlight the continuum of marketplace exposure and access ranging from isolated tribal communities, to rural communities, and urban communities. We also describe 1-1 interactional settings characterized by intense, personal interactions, relationally rich while being materially poor, overlapping with what has been described as relational collectivism. At the other end of the continuum in advanced economies, we describe high exposure and access to marketplaces, and consumption cultures, but lack of relationally rich 1-1 interactional settings that provide a stepping-stone to learn and develop marketplace literacy. Cognitive tendencies such as concrete thinking and pictographic thinking, as well as affective and behavioral elements, manifest in different ways across cultures ranging from advanced economies to urban, rural, and tribal settings in developing contexts. Relational richness can moderate cognitive tendencies such as concrete thinking in terms of focusing on an attribute such as price, as relationships and trust influence purchase in such settings. Viewed with cross-cultural frameworks, relational collectivism and elements of holistic and analytic thinking resemble what low-literate, low-income customers engage in as customers in negotiating the marketplaces.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationCross Cultural Issues in Consumer Science and Consumer Psychology
Subtitle of host publicationCurrent Perspectives and Future Directions
Number of pages20
ISBN (Electronic)9783319650913
ISBN (Print)9783319650906
StatePublished - Jan 1 2017


  • Emerging markets
  • Low-literacy
  • Poverty
  • Subsistence marketplaces

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Economics, Econometrics and Finance
  • General Business, Management and Accounting
  • General Psychology


Dive into the research topics of 'Subsistence marketplaces at the confluence of culture, poverty, and low literacy: Materially poor but relationally rich?'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this