Conference Agenda

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Session Overview
RN05_07a: Consumption and the family
Thursday, 22/Aug/2019:
4:00pm - 5:30pm

Session Chair: Lydia Martens, Keele University
Location: BS.G.34
Manchester Metropolitan University Building: Business School, Ground Floor Oxford Road

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Past Familial Experiences And The Interrelationships Between Consumers’ Individual and Relational Selves Over Time

Katerina Karanika1, Margaret Hogg2

1University of Exeter, United Kingdom; 2Lancaster University, United Kingdom

Consumer research has always acknowledged that family history, childhood experiences and parental figures influence consumption as individuals draw on the past-present-future nexus to construct their identities via consumption. However, consumer research has neglected to explore how memories of the past individual and/or relational self impact the current individual and relational self in consumption. A phenomenological study used the lens of consumers’ ego-states to explore how consumers’ experiences are affected by different time-bound views of the self. Middle-class consumers’ experiences with their important possessions and consumption activities were examined in the two largest cities in Greece. In Greece the interplay between consumers’ individual and relational selves over time may be particularly shaped by the recession and the weak welfare state which means that the family is the main support in coping with social risks. Our study sheds light on specific tensions between consumers’ individual and relational selves over time. In some cases these reflected specific ego-states (Adapted Child, Critical-vs-Nurturing Parent, Natural Child-vs-Adult) and stimulated particular types of identity conflicts and consumption ambivalence. In other cases, different dynamics between individual and relational selves over time linked to specific ego-states [Natural Child, Nurturing Parent(vs-Adapted Child)] and promoted positive feelings in particular consumption experiences. Also, the study identified different types of self-expansion and self-reduction and different conflicts between self-expansion and self-reduction in consumption. The findings also revealed different person-thing-person trilateral trajectories (Belk, 1988) [other-thing-self, (self-vs-other)-thing, thing-self-other] that linked to familial interpersonal relationships and were based on different interrelationships between individual and relational selves.

Keywords: self-identity, ego-states, ambivalence, family

Household Expenditure And Stage Of Family Life Cycle: An Empirical Study Of Italian Households

Simona Diliberto, Michele Tumminello, Fabio Massimo Lo Verde

University of Palermo, Italy

Household expenditure and consumption behaviour are domains investigated through a variety of approaches. Nonetheless, there is a lack of empirical studies that analyse the association between household spending patterns and stages of family life cycle, which is, actually, the aim of the present study. We analyse secondary data collected by the Italian Institute of Statistics (ISTAT) through the Survey on Household Consumption (time period: 2001-2013), which include yearly expenditure details on 279 categories of goods and services, for a sample of more than 20,000 Italian households every year. In the study, we consider i) nuclear families with offspring, stratified according to generation of children, working status of parents and their level of education, ii) nuclear families without children, stratified by the age of components, and iii) families without structure (people living alone), also stratified by the age of component. The system of households, expenditure categories, and family types is described as a three-partite network, and the associated statistically validated bipartite network is used to elicit the characterizing expenditure patterns of each family type. Results show that the budgetary allocation of households on the various categories depends on i) the presence/absence of children, ii) the generation of offspring, if leisure time expenditure is concerned, and iii) the stage of family life cycle (new-born, consolidated, and in later life). Our analysis also indicates that some dimensions associated with the income, like working status of parents and their level of education, also represent prominent factors to interpret, model and predict consumer choices.

From A Grandfather Butcher To A Vegetarian Granddaughter: Practices Transformations Across Three Generations In Food And Mobility

Amélie Anciaux

UCLouvain, Belgium

What is the role of primary socialisation in the adoption of more sustainable practices? The objective of this contribution is to observe the evolution of consumption practices across three generations. Based on an original methodology using family trees of practices related to mobility and alimentation, this analysis includes 24 in-depth interviews: 11 with parents and 13 with young adults who have already left the parental home. The interviews involve eight families in which at least one interview with a young adult and one interview with a parent were collected in 2017-18. The theoretical framework of this research mainly draws on social practice theories (Schatzki, 1996; Reckwitz, 2002; Shove et al. 2012). To discuss these issues, the concepts of "reversed socialisation" (Bronfenbrenner, 1979) and "compartmentalisation" (Halkier 2001; Bartiaux 2008) as well as the effects of age, cohort, and period (Wunsch & Termote, 1978) borrowed from demography are used to better understand the role of the primary socialisation in the adoption of sustainable practices.

Navigating Symbolic Pollution in Family Care Assemblages Though Symbolic Boundary Work

Jacqui O'Riordan1, Carol ME Kelleher1, Deirdre O' Loughlin2

1University College Cork, Ireland; 2University of Limerick, Ireland

In this paper, we explore how illness requiring care displaces family assemblages. Specifically, we illustrate how illness as a form of symbolic pollution transforms family relations and capacities necessitating symbolic boundary work to hold family assemblages together, which in turn, shapes both a sense of home and of family. Drawing on a qualitative study of twenty four family caregivers, who provide informal unpaid care to family members, we reveal how care for ill family members led to a displacement of family relations, capacities and disruption of practices led to an altered sense of home and family. Specifically, we induce two forms of symbolic pollution: Home Unfixtures and Familial Strangers, which modulated meanings of home and family, as well as two forms of symbolic boundary work: Labors of Homing and Familying On, which sought to reconstitute a sense of home and family within evolving family assemblages.

Our findings make three main contributions to the sociology of consumption. First, we reveal how illness, as a specific component and form of symbolic pollution, modulates family assemblages. Second, we reveal how illness precipitates ongoing processes of deterritorialization. We specifically demonstrate how illness transforms material capacities that typically provide a sense of home, denoting safely, comfort and welcome (homeyness) within family assemblages, into sites of surveillance and fortification. Third, we reveal that illness facilitates, stretches and alters relations and capacities with family assemblages, or a sense of family, which in turn necessitates symbolic boundary work. That is, illness contemporaneously de-constitutes and reconstitutes families. We conclude with limitations and an agenda for future research.

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