The complexity of cancel culture: : Unveiling the personal and social drivers that influences the decision to cancel
Sammanfattning: The rise of social media has emerged the social phenomena called cancel culture, where individuals hold influencers and endorsed brands accountable for perceived immoral actions. Cancel culture originates from a desire for social justice, where the consequences of those cancelled could be temporary and long-lasting reputational damage. The behavior to cancel is individually complex and has many different drivers influencing the performance of behavior. Despite its significant impact, cancel culture within research is just in its early stage and has received limited research from a qualitative perspective. Previous studies have researched cancel culture through the perspective of consumer power, celebrity transgressions, psychological drivers, and social identity. Moreover, previous research has studied the intended behavior to cancel, not the actual performance to cancel. There still remains a research gap in understanding the personal and social drivers that influence the process to cancel an influencer and endorsed brand. By this, it led us to our research question: “What are the personal and social drivers that could influence the behavior to engage in cancel culture?”. With an aim to provide a deeper understanding of the complex phenomena of cancel culture between consumers, influencers and the endorsed brands. By examining drivers such as norms, beliefs, values and traits our study seeks to shed light on the drivers and how they influence the behavior of cancel culture. The findings revealed an interesting insight from the consumer perspective. An actual cancellation has a higher chance of occurring if the influencer's action is perceived to cross an moral barrier of a follower. However, our study found that subjectivity increases complexity of the behavior as every individual has their own moral barrier. For example, if the action is perceived to clash with the followers’ personal beliefs and values, cancellation might occur, however another individual might not perceive the action to cross their moral barrier. Moreover, our study found that the desire of social belongingness and social acceptance has a significant role when making a decision to cancel. From our study we have revealed that cancel culture is both an individual and social phenomenon, where the influence of one's own personal drivers is just as influential as the social influence. More specifically, followers' idea of their self- concept is just as influential as the pressure from their social environment. In conclusion, personal and social drivers influence the decision to cancel an influencer and endorsed brands. However, as subjectivity matters, these personal and social drivers influence the process differently for each individual. From a managerial perspective, our findings could contribute to influencer marketing strategies trying to improve their selection process or response strategy if an cancellation would occur.
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