Training programme

Where did that come from? Tracing the roots of your theory - 6 ECTS

This is an advanced course which is part of the WASS graduate programme in the MSc programmes MME, MID, MDR and MCH. This course is specifically intended for PhD candidates and MSc students who want to deepen their theoretical background in consumer studies theories and approaches. Consumers and consumption are central in multiple disciplines, e.g. economics, sociology, communication, product design, marketing and psychology. These disciplines bring their own traditions and background which energizes a multidisciplinary interest in consumers consumers and consumption.

Organised by Wageningen School of Social Sciences (WASS)

Tue 29 October 2019 until Thu 5 December 2019

Venue Leeuwenborch, gebouwnummer 201

Theories and theoretical approaches relevant to understanding consumers and consumption have emerged across time based on insights from multiple disciplines. In this course, we create awareness among advanced MSc students and PhD candidates that the current theories are based on the synthesis of earlier ideas. We will explore how the roots of current theories in different disciplines, and the development pathway of these theories consisting of synthesis of other theories leads to the oddities, peculiarities and limitation of current theories.  

Students will bring a selected theory or theoretical approach that they consider interesting or relevant for their own future work. By investigating the roots of the theory they will (1) better understand why the current theory is as it is (2) how this theory is embedded in the larger theoretical scope of the social sciences (3) learn to better position and defend their own approach in the larger domain of social sciences.

Learning outcomes

After successful completion of this course students are expected to be able to:

  • for a self-selected theoretical construct compare different approaches and identify to what extent differences can be traced back to different classical theories and authors
  • identify, explain, and defend a current theoretical approach and the impact within current theoretical discussions in consumer studies;
  • report the findings in a scientific essay / paper and convincingly argue and describe the genealogy of the current theoretical construct.


The course includes two different types of teaching and learning activities:

  • two hour coached writing groups on Tuesday in which students, under supervision of a moderator, discuss progress in the analysis and the writing of the individual paper. This can be amended with weekly meetings with an assigned supervisor (by appointment) to discuss progress, search strategies and writing of the paper.
  • two hour tutorials on Thursday afternoon in which students and faculty discuss the uncovered relations in the theory and how this relates to current status quo in the field. Nota bene that in these meeting interested faculty that is not supervising students is welcome to participate.

In all learning activities, the lecturing team encourages students to take an active role in order to get most out of it for their personal learning. Students will have to reflect on how a body of literature relating to consumer studies is impacting their research traditions.      


Individual paper. A minimum mark of 5.5 is needed to pass.                          

    More information

    Study Handbook