It Never Ends: Vulnerable Consumers’ Experiences of Persistent Liminality and Resource (Mis)Integration

Deirdre O'Loughlin*, Johanna Gummerus, Carol Kelleher

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Transformative Service Research (TSR) highlights the fundamental importance of resource integration for consumer well-being. However, recent research suggests that resource integration can be problematic and imperfect, particularly for vulnerable consumers with complex and ongoing resource requirements. Such vulnerable consumers may face transition challenges and end up in an uncertain “in-between” experience of liminality, where the linkage to resource integration remains under-researched. In response to recent service prioritization challenges, we explore how vulnerable actors experience liminality and resource integration in service systems. The vulnerable actors highlighted in this study are parents in families of children with life-long conditions (e.g., autism spectrum disorder/ASD and Down syndrome). We reveal a new form of liminality as a persistent, relational phenomenon that interdependent vulnerable actors with ongoing complex resource needs collectively experienced within service systems. Further, we identify the dynamics of persistent liminality as Precipitating, Subsisting, and Resisting. Finally, in line with TSR, we shed light on the resource constraints that decrease the well-being of vulnerable consumers. We also identify implications for theory, practice, and future research.

Original languageEnglish
Peer-reviewed scientific journalJournal of Service Research
Publication statusPublished - 03.07.2023
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article - refereed


  • 512 Business and Management
  • service system
  • liminality
  • resource integration
  • value cocreation
  • vulnerable consumers

Areas of Strength and Areas of High Potential (AoS and AoHP)

  • AoS: Competition economics and service strategy - Service and customer-oriented management


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