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Deborah Komarnisky

PhD Candidate (Legal Studies)


I joined the PhD program in Legal Studies with a concentration in Political Economy in the fall of 2019. My research interests are focused on consumers and consumption, loyalty, privacy and surveillance, brand culture, regulation of the retail market, and self-governance. My research specifically focuses on loyalty reward programs in the retail market. I seek to analyze the use of loyalty reward programs in the retail market and their impact on consumer identity, retail commodity consumption and brand culture. Loyalty rewards programs are complex capitalist artefacts in the retail market. Most Canadians are part of at least one loyalty rewards program. However, they are more than a marketing tool. Retailers set the terms and conditions for the use of the loyalty rewards programs and cards. In exchange for benefits, consumers willingly give up personal data. Data collection is up front when the consumer joins the loyalty rewards card program and continues as the consumer makes purchases. The data collected has a great value to retailers. My research seeks to ask: How do loyalty reward programs function as a governance structure containing status symbols, a system of values, a hierarchy of participation, an idealized lifestyle, and benefits? Consumer identity, loyalty, self-governance, brand culture and wealth are all tied to the programs and the accumulation of reward points.

Research Interests

  • Consumers, Consumption and Brand Culture.
  • Loyalty.
  • Privacy and Surveillance.
  • Governance, Self-Governance and Identity.
  • Intellectual Property Rights and Counterfeiting.
  • Popular Culture and Cultural Theory.
  • Critical legal Theory and Political Economy.
  • Business Law.


Dr. Sheryl Hamilton


M.A., Law & Legal Studies
Carleton University

B.A. (High Honours) in Law and Legal Studies
Carleton University

Diploma in Regulatory Law Administration
Algonquin College, Ottawa, Ontario

B.A. (Honours) in Mass Communication
Carleton University

Scholarships & Awards

2021 to 2022 – Ontario Graduate Scholarship ($15,000)

2020 to 2021 – Ontario Graduate Scholarship ($15,000)


Komarnisky, Deborah, Book Review “A Review of DeBrabander, Firmin 2020. Life After Privacy: Reclaiming Democracy in a Surveillance Society.” Surveillance & Society, 19:1 (2021).

Komarnisky, Deborah, Book Review “A Review of Molitorisz, Sacha 2020. Net Privacy: How we can be Free in an Age of Surveillance”, Surveillance & Society, 18:4 (2020).

Komarnisky, Deborah; Book Review, “Crime Prevention, Migration Control and Surveillance Practices: Welfare Bureaucracy as Mobility Deterrent”, AmeriQuests 15.1 (2020).

Komarnisky, Deborah; Book Review “False Positive: Private Profit in Canadas Medical Laboratories” from Alternative Routes, A Journal of Critical Social Research; Vol 25 (2014) at p. 310.

Teaching Assistant

LAWS 2908 – Approaches in Legal Studies (Legal Research Methods) – Fall 2021, Fall/Winter 2020/2021, Fall/Winter 2019/2020

Certificate in Teaching Assistant Skills, April 2021, Education Development Centre, Carleton University.

Courses Taught

LAWS 3205 (Consumer Law) – Fall 2018, 2017 and 2016.

LAWS 3202 (Intellectual Property) – Fall 2015.

Selected Conference Presentations

“The Reward-Centric Consumer: Governing Consumer Identity, Agency, and Brand Loyalty in the Retail Market” presented at the Graduate Law and Legal Students Conference, Carleton University, May 13, 2021, Ottawa, ON. 2021.