Dr Wei-Fen Chen

Lecturer in MarketingWei-Fen Chen

Contact details

  • Tel: +44 (0)116 252 5358
  • Email: wc129@le.ac.uk
  • Office: Room 1.01, Mary Seacole, Brookfield
  • Office hours: Friday 10:00am - 12:00noon (via Microsoft Teams)

Personal details

Prior to joining the University of Leicester School of Business in 2019 as a Lecturer in Marketing, I conducted my post-doctoral research in Hong Kong, affiliated with The Chinese University of Hong Kong (2018-2019) and The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (2016-2018). Originally from Taiwan, I have professional experiences in both the private and public sectors before pursuing my PhD. degree at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (2011-2016) as a Fulbright grantee.


In the academic year 2020-21, I contribute to the following modules:

  • MN 7011 Consumers, Brands and Communications
  • MN 3204 Dissertation


My research focuses on the consumption practices of individuals experiencing broadly-defined social mobility. Based on a critical perspective, I am concerned with the dynamic meaning construction and boundary signalling in the context of social mobility and how they are related to justice, ethics and equality in the market. I am also interested in studying the trend of anti-consumerism and minimalism. My ongoing research projects can be divided into the following three empirical tracks.

  1. Social inequality and consumer culture: I study youth consumption in the context of vertical social class mobility and horizontal, geographic mobility of transnational relocation. For example, I investigate how distinctions can be signalled when consumers “trade down” in the post-recession era and when international students pursue cosmopolitanism in their fixed-term overseas stay.
  2. Gender inequality and anti-consumerism: While gender difference has long been noted in consumer studies, this project examines how practices of anti-consumerism, mindful consumption, and minimalism can be gendered, arguing that gender stereotypes may marginalise particular consumers in the practice of sustainable consumption.
  3. Shopping tourism and contested urban space: I study the trend of international shopping tourism and how such practices have re-shaped the consumption-scape in host societies. I also examine the political consumption of local residents that aim to claim local identities, secure resources and restore local market orders when contesting urban space against international shoppers.


I’d be happy to work with PhD students who may need support in qualitative research methods and have research interests in the following areas that intersect with contemporary consumer culture:

  • Social inequality
  • Emerging markets
  • Anti-consumerism/minimalism
  • Shopping tourism


Referred journal articles

Chen, Wei-Fen and Michelle R. Nelson (2020). Champagne Taste, Beer Budget—The New Poor’s Incongruent Capital and Consumption. Journal of Consumer Culture, 20 (1), 23-42. First published online: 1st September 2017. 

Chen, W., Wang, X., Gao, H., & Hong, Y. (2019). Understanding Consumer Ethics in China’s Demographic Shift and Social Reforms. Asia Pacific Journal of Marketing and Logistics, 31(3), 627-646.

Chen, W., & Ting, T. (2019). Contesting Shopping Tourism: Neoliberal Consumptionscapes and Conflicts in Host Societies. Tourism Culture & Communication, 19(2), 155-160.

Chen, W. (2018). The Perceived Cosmopolitan Consumption of Globally Mobile Young Consumers from China. Young Consumers, 19(4), 450-464.

Chen, W. (2014). Proud Stigma: The Domestic Narrative of a Family as Political Criminal Descendants. Qualitative Inquiry, 20(3), 283-287.

Book chapters

Ting, Tin-yuet and Wei-Fen ChenEmbattled Consumptionscape of Tourism: Networked Urban Contention against Inbound Tourist Shoppers in Hong Kong” Accepted for publication in 2021 in the edited book The Power of New Urban Tourism with Routledge.

Conference proceeding

Chen, W. (2017). The Social Mobility Perception of Chinese International Students in the U.S. The proceedings of the 2017 Asian Conference on Media & Mass Communication. ISSN: 2186-5906

Book reviews

Chen, W. (2018). Review of The Myth of the Age of Entitlement: Millennials, Austerity, and Hope, by James Cairns. Journal of Consumer Culture, 19(2), 289-292.

Briefs and reports

Chen, W. (October 2017). Understanding the Globally-Mobile, Young Consumers from the Emerging Markets. HKUST Thought Leadership Briefs No.19, available at https://iems.ust.hk/assets/publications/thought-leadership-briefs/tlb19/chen-understanding-consumers-iems-tlb19_1.pdf

Chen, W., Wang, X., & Hong, Y. (March 2019). Understanding Emerging Market Consumers through the Lens of Social Mobility. HKUST Thought Leadership Briefs No.25, available at https://iems.ust.hk/assets/publications/thought-leadership-briefs/tlb25/hkust-iems-tlb25-chen.pdf

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