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Wei-fen Chen


IEMS Research Areas


Social mobility; Consumer culture; Global branding and advertising strategies 


Wei-Fen Chen received her Ph.D. in Communications and Media from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Her research focuses on consumer culture in the contemporary society, particularly in regard to the psychographic and demographic features and consumption practices of individuals experiencing social mobility. Her doctoral dissertation explored consumers’ transitional social class consciousness in recession and their consumption practices. Her recent project discusses the upward mobility of new middle class and the corresponding consumer culture in emerging markets. The classes she taught in the Charles H. Sandage Department of Advertising at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign included “Consumer Insight” and “Advertising and Society.” 

In the past five years, in addition to multiple scholarships, she was a recipient of the Fulbright Fellowship, the S. Watson and Elizabeth S. Dunn Fellowship, and the Dissertation Completion Fellowship from the Chiang Ching-kuo Foundation for International Scholarly Exchange. Before joining the academia, she worked as a government officer in Taiwan and was specialized in press liaison and media strategy. 


  • Chen, W. and Nelson, M. R. Champagne Taste, Beer Budget—The New Poor’s Consumption Practices and “Mass Prestige” Experience. Under review.

  • Chen, W. Reproducing Downward Mobility in Shopping: The New Poor’s Subjectivity, Incongruent Capital, and Consumption Practices. In preparation.

  • Chen, W. Conscious Consumerism of the New Middle Class in Outbound Mobility—An Example of Chinese International Students in the U.S. In preparation.

  • Chen, W. (2016) Social Class Consciousness and Consumer Culture in Transition—Exploring the “New Poor” in Taiwan and the U.S. Doctoral Dissertation.

  • Chen, W. (2014). Proud stigma: The domestic narrative of a family as political criminal descendants. Qualitative Inquiry, 20(3), 283-287.