Assembling tribes: An assemblage thinking approach to the dynamics of ephemerality within consumer tribes

Carlos A. Diaz Ruiz*, Lisa Penaloza, Jonas Holmqvist

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

24 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose: This paper aims to investigate the dynamics of ephemerality within consumer tribes by conceptualizing how tribes constitute, disperse and reconstitute. Building upon assemblage thinking, a philosophical approach that redistributes agency from the subject to a web of interconnected human–material actants, this paper shows that tribes manifest via hybrid assemblages of people, things and ideas.
Design/methodology/approach: Insights are drawn from a three-year assemblage-oriented ethnographic study of a salsa-dancing tribe, specifically their ephemeral gatherings across multiple sites without hierarchical organization. Methods include observations as a consumer–participant, producer–participant and in-depth interviewing.
Findings: Introduces a framework documenting how tribes disperse temporarily and reconstitute via a dual process of ascription and distribution. Tribes reconstitute when consumers reproduce an assemblage that effectively overcomes a meshwork of practical challenges. Consumers ascribe to the standards of the tribe while, alternatively, tribes distribute the assemblage beyond the immediate group.
Research limitations/implications: Conceptualizes the socio-technical dynamics that tribes mobilize to disassemble and reassemble through ephemeral gatherings. Proposes a framework on hybrid interdependencies, including not only participants but also techniques, devices and sites.
Practical implications: While previous research shows that tribes can collapse, the authors propose that marketers can intervene to foster long-term resilience. As tribes disperse, consumer and marketing efforts operate at different temporal sequences to enable tribal reconstitutions.
Originality/value: Contributes to the literature on consumer tribes by theorizing ephemerality per ascription and distribution mechanisms.
Original languageEnglish
Peer-reviewed scientific journalEuropean Journal of Marketing
Issue number5
Pages (from-to)999-1024
Number of pages26
Publication statusPublished - 2020
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article - refereed


  • 512 Business and Management
  • consumer culture
  • assemblage theory
  • market practices
  • consumer tribes
  • assemblage thinking
  • tribal marketing


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  • Luxury

    Diaz Ruiz, C. A.

    01.12.2012 → …

    Project: Other project

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