Tanja Schneider is a Research Fellow in Science and Technology Studies at Saïd Business School, University of Oxford. Her areas of expertise include social studies of markets and marketing, media and consumer culture as well as the politics and practices of food governance with a particular interest in food marketing.
Tanja’s current work focuses on three broad areas:
• The ‘Neuro-turn’ in European Social Sciences and Humanities (NESSHI)
With Professor Steve Woolgar (Saïd Business School, University of Oxford) Tanja is currently exploring the emergence and implications of ‘neuromarketing’, i.e., a new form of consumer and market research that uses neuroscientific knowledge and technologies to understand consumer behaviour. She undertakes an empirical investigation of neuromarketing through ethnographic fieldwork, interviews and documentary analysis with the objective to examine how neuromarketing contributes to alternative conceptualisations of consumers and consumer behaviour. This ethnographic design is supplemented by a comparative historical overview of how different market research technologies have contributed to changing conceptualisations of the consumer and consumer behaviour over time. This study is part of a three-year European wide Open Research Area (ORA) project co-funded by the UK ESRC, DFG Germany, NWO Netherlands and ANR France.
In December 2010 Tanja organised and co-convened a two-day international conference on – ‘Neurosociety: what is it with the brain these days?’ The conference, hosted at Saïd Business School, explored how and why the figure of the brain has come to permeate so many different areas of thinking and practice in academic and commercial life, and the consequences for academia, business, commerce and policy.
• The politics and practices of food governance
Tanja has also studied the marketing of health food and healthy eating practices, and issues related to food governance. She recently published on the classification and qualification of genetically modified foods and functional foods, such as probiotic yogurt and calcium-fortified orange juice (with Javier Lezaun). The research examined how these relatively new food products are governed in Europe.
Following on from this Tanja has been involved in establishing the Oxford Food Governance group (OFG), a new interdisciplinary group of researchers from the Institute for Science, Innovation and Society (InSIS), Saïd Business School and the Unit for Biocultural Variation and Obesity (UBVO) at the University of Oxford, who share a research interest in food governance practices. In 2012 OFG received funding from Green Templeton College and the Oxford Martin Programme on the Future of Food to convene a seminar series to explore the contemporary politics of food production, marketing and consumption. In addition the Oxford Martin Programme on the Future of Food has awarded one of its research grants to the Oxford Food Governance group. The project will study how new social media and information technologies enable novel forms of consumer activism and food governance. For more information, see the Future of Food website.
• Discursive families network
As a member of an interdisciplinary research collaboration that has received a one year International Network Grant from The Leverhulme Trust in 2012, Schneider is involved in a comparative study on ‘Discursive Families: A comparison of magazine advertising in two countries’. The research examines changes and continuities in visual displays and textual descriptions of the consuming family based on material sourced from Good Housekeeping (UK) and The Australian Women’s Weekly (AUS) over a period of 60 years (1950-2010). This research project will contribute to the ongoing debate about the role of media in shaping consumer culture, and particularly the role of marketing in promoting particular consumer identities.
Before joining Saïd Business School in 2008, Tanja worked as Research Associate in the Science Studies Programme at the University of Basel in Switzerland. Schneider earned an MA in Business Administration and Economics from the University of St. Gallen in Switzerland and a PhD in Marketing from the University of Sydney in Australia. Schneider is a Research Fellow at Green Templeton College, Oxford (since October 2011), a Research Fellow at the School of Anthropology and Museum Ethnography (since January 2013) and is a Fellow at the Unit for Biocultural Variation and Obesity, University of Oxford.
Areas of expertise include:
Tanja’s current research focuses on marketing and advertising practices, in particular the emergence of neuromarketing and issues related to food governance. She also studies the portrayal of families and family practices in the media.
Tanja is currently conducting an empirical investigation of neuromarketing – a new form of market and consumer research that uses techniques from neuroscience to analyse people’s responses to products and promotions – through ethnographic fieldwork, interviews and documentary analysis to understand the conditions of its emergence as well the social implications of this new technology. This work is part of a three-year, European-wide project on the ‘Neuro-turn in European Social Sciences and the Humanities: Impacts of neurosciences on economics, marketing and philosophy’ (NESSHI) co-funded by an ESRC ‘Open Research Area’ grant.
Tanja recently completed research on the classification and qualification of genetically modified foods and functional foods, such as probiotic yogurt and calcium-fortified orange juice. The research examined how these relatively new food products are governed in contemporary Europe and observes that legislation does not ﬁx the meaning of novel food categories, or fully determine its application, but invites and mobilises a range of market actors, such as producers, retailers, consumers to come up with their own qualifications of new products – often assisted through the use of labels and health claims prominently displayed on the food product. Javier Lezaun and Tanja argue that this afﬁnity between the open-ended nature of regulatory frameworks and a never-ending process of product re-qualiﬁcation go hand in hand with the promotion of a pattern of ‘restless consumption.’
Marketing of health food and healthy eating
Tanja’s research in this area looks at food-related editorial and advertorial content in consumer magazines to uncover how healthy eating is portrayed in the media and how the anxiety and risks associated with food consumption are built up and allayed.
Much of Tanja’s research is of direct interest and relevance to policy-makers and industry practitioners in the fields of marketing and consumer protection.
It is expected that the findings of the major European-wide study of the emerging area of neuromarketing, to which Tanja is contributing, will inform the debate about whether and to what extent this area of marketing practice should be governed, and in what ways. Her work on this project, which involves close engagement with marketing practitioners and academics at the forefront of these developments, was the subject of a recent article in Research Magazine: ‘Study to look at the uses and impact of neuromarketing.’
Tanja’s work on food governance has a similarly direct relevance to consumers and policy makers. Tanja is working with colleagues from the Oxford Food Governance group on research intended to contribute to the discussion how to govern food innovations. The group, comprising members from the University of Oxford, includes Dr Catherine Dolan, University Lecturer in Marketing, Culture and Society, Saïd Business School. For the OFG blog see http://oxfordfoodgovernancegroup.wordpress.com/
The marketing of health food and healthy eating is a topic of particular interest to Tanja and is one which is often the focus of media discussion. Her work in uncovering how healthy consumer-citizens are portrayed in the media and how the anxiety and risks associated with food consumption are built up and allayed. Her research will do much to increase understanding in this area of growing concern for consumers, industry practitioners and regulators.
Recent media coverage:
Tanja is a tutor for the Advanced Qualitative Research Methods course for DPhil students at Saїd Business School. She also has been a contributing tutor on the topic of child-focused marketing and consumer nationalism for the marketing tutorial series in the undergraduate Economics and Management programme at Oxford. She has also designed and taught courses on the sociology of food and health, branding and consumer culture.
Saïd Business School
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