Health and wealth: Dietary supplements, network marketing and the commodification of health

Date
2003-12
Authors
Dixon, Anna R.
Journal Title
Journal ISSN
Volume Title
Publisher
University of Hawaii at Manoa
Abstract
Dietary supplements overall constitute a multibillion-dollar industry in the U.S. today. This dissertation investigates a heretofore poorly-documented aspect of the burgeoning dietary supplements industry: network marketing. Network marketing, exemplified by companies like Amway as well as a host of smaller, less well-known companies, operates within the so-called "grey economy." Hawai'i ranks second in the nation in the percentage of network marketing distributors relative to its population. Network marketing works at the grassroots level of existing social networks to promote and sell its products, making it the ideal setting in which to do social science research. Semistructured and structured interviews were conducted with members of three companies. Aside from gathering baseline data on products used, health conditions addressed by these products and the structure of each company, interviews and product promotional material were analyzed using text analysis. Results of this research show that while perceived efficacy of network-marketed products is an important motivator in becoming a product distributor, factors such as control over one's health, creation of a support community through shared efforts, and economic opportunity are also important. Finally, analysis of themes in product advertising simultaneously reflect as well as inform network marketers' beliefs and desires for autonomy in the spheres of finance, personal life, and health.
Description
Keywords
Health, Dietary supplements, Network marketing, Commodification, Cultural anthropology, Public health, Nutrition, Marketing, Studies
Citation
Dixon, Anna R. (2003) Health and wealth: Dietary supplements, network marketing and the commodification of health. Ph.D. dissertation, University of Hawai'i, United States -- Hawaii.
Rights
Access Rights
Email libraryada-l@lists.hawaii.edu if you need this content in ADA-compliant format.