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Reactivity without Legitimacy? Online Consumer Reviews in the Restaurant Industry

Abstract : In recent years, web sites where individual consumers can rate and review goods and services have mushroomed all over the Internet. Restaurants are particularly affected by online reviewing. If the impact of online consumer reviews (OCRs) on the demand side of markets is now well understood and measured, few studies examine the reception of this new evaluation method by those who are assessed. Based on interviews with French restaurant managers, our research shows that OCRs systems reconfigure relations of accountability in the restaurant industry. We use the notion of reactivity to describe the mechanisms through which the new evaluation system transforms the activity of restaurants. We also examine the affects surrounding the reception of ratings and reviews by restaurant managers and the moral criteria that accompany their discourses on online reviews. Many restaurants consider online reviews as a brutal and hypocritical mode of judgment. The judgment produced by online ratings and reviews is not easily borne by restaurant managers, because it challenges the conventions of quality they had previously internalized as legitimate, that is, those produced by professional experts. We interpret this ambivalent reception as the unfinished movement of transforming a performative reputation device into a legitimate evaluation institution.
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Submitted on : Wednesday, October 20, 2021 - 11:20:19 PM
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Jean Samuel Beuscart, Kevin Mellet, Marie Trespeuch. Reactivity without Legitimacy? Online Consumer Reviews in the Restaurant Industry. Journal of Cultural Economy, Routledge, 2016, 9 (5), pp.458 - 475. ⟨10.1080/17530350.2016.1210534⟩. ⟨hal-03389275⟩

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