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Consuming for friendship: Children´s perceptions of relational consumption
Linnaeus University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Social Work.
2014 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)Alternative title
Konsumtion och kompisar : Barns förståelse av relationell konsumtion (Swedish)
Abstract [en]

Swedish children have, from a historical perspective and compared with many other countries, greater economic resources and a higher material living standard. However, there is a widening gap between affluent and vulnerable households in Sweden. At the same time, children are targets for significant pressure to consume in order to gain inclusion among peers. This thesis aims to investigate how children, between the ages of 9 and 12, perceive consumption, as part of their social life among peers. Children’s own perspectives are central throughout the thesis. Therefore, an additional aim is to make a contribution to the debate concerning how to interpret children in their roles as consumers. A research overview of Nordic consumer research relating to tweens was carried out. Thereafter, empirical data was collected through projective focus group interviews and drawings. In total, 101 children, from four different schools, participated in the study. The location and prestige of the schools confirms that the selected children were mixed in terms of class and ethnicity. The results are presented in four articles that provide different segments in the understanding of how children perceive consumption in their social life among peers. In the summary chapters, a synthesized analysis shows, among other things, that most children perceived consumption as a useful tool to enhance social relationships with peers. However, some children expressed moral values concerning consumption, where they emphasised that it felt “wrong to buy friends”. Moreover, the children’s perceptions of consumption varied depending on age, gender and neighbourhood. The analysis suggests that we need to address children both as competent and dependent individuals, in order to gain a more nuanced understanding of children as consumers. Additionally, a new concept, relational consumption, is developed from the children’s perceptions of consumption, principally referring to consumption used to create, strengthen and maintain social relationships. In summary: the work presented in this thesis contributes to increase the knowledge about 9 to 12 year old children’s perceptions of consumption in today’s Swedish society and demonstrates the importance for social work to address the aspect of relational consumption.

Abstract [sv]

Svenska barn har, både från ett historiskt perspektiv och i jämförelse med många andra länder, större tillgång till ekonomiska resurser och en hög materiell levnadsstandard. Dock växer idag klyftan mellan välbärgade och utsatta hushåll i Sverige. Samtidigt möter barn en betydande press på att konsumera för att kunna få en plats i gemenskapen med jämnåriga. Denna avhandling syftar till att undersöka hur barn, mellan 9-12 år, uppfattar och förstår konsumtion, som en del av det sociala livet med kamraterna. Då barnens egna perspektiv är centrala i avhandlingen är också ytterligare ett syfte att bidra till den pågående debatten kring hur barn bör förstås i deras roller som konsumenter. En forskningsöversikt över nordisk konsumentforskning om tweens genomfördes. Därefter samlades empirisk data in genom projektiva fokusgruppsintervjuer och teckningar. Sammanlagt deltog 101 barn, från fyra olika skolor, i studien. Skolornas placering och prestige tyder på att barnen var blandade vad gäller klass och etnicitet. Resultaten presenteras i fyra artiklar som bidrar med olika infallsvinklar kring hur barnen uppfattar konsumtion i det sociala livet med kamrater. I kappan visar en syntetiserad analys av resultaten att de flesta barn i studien uppfattar konsumtion som ett användbart verktyg för att stärka sociala relationer med jämnåriga. Samtidigt gav dock några barn uttryck för moraliska värderingar där de betonade att det är "fel att köpa vänner". Barnens uppfattningar om konsumtion varierade beroende på ålder, kön och bostadsområde. I analysen betonas också vikten av att förstå barn både som kompetenta och beroende för att skapa en mer nyanserad bild av barn som konsumenter. Dessutom utvecklas ett nytt begrepp, relationell konsumtion, baserat på barnens uppfattningar om konsumtion. Begreppet avser i huvudsak konsumtion som används för att skapa, stärka och upprätthålla sociala relationer. Sammanfattningsvis bidrar avhandlingen till att öka kunskapen om hur barn mellan 9–12 år uppfattar konsumtion i dagens svenska samhälle. Avhandlingen påvisar också vikten av att socialt arbete intresserar sig för relationell konsumtion, och inte enbart ekonomiska förhållanden.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Linnaeus University Press, 2014.
Series
Linnaeus University Dissertations, 168/2014
Keyword [en]
Children, Consumption, Economic Recourses, Economic Vulnerability, Friendship, Materialism, Money, Peers, Relational Consumption, Socialisation, Tweens.
Keyword [sv]
Barn, Ekonomisk utsatthet, Ekonomiska resurser, Konsumtion, Materialism, Pengar, Relationell Konsumtion, Socialisering, Tweens, Vänskap.
National Category
Social Work
Research subject
Social Sciences, Social Work
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:lnu:diva-34023ISBN: 978-91-87427-82-4 (print)OAI: oai:DiVA.org:lnu-34023DiVA: diva2:714585
Public defence
2014-06-13, Myrdal, Växjö, 10:15 (Swedish)
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2014-05-26 Created: 2014-04-28 Last updated: 2014-05-26Bibliographically approved
List of papers
1.
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2. “If you have money, you can be kinder to them”: Possessions and economic resources in children's peer groups
Open this publication in new window or tab >>“If you have money, you can be kinder to them”: Possessions and economic resources in children's peer groups
2012 (English)In: Young Consumers: Insight and Ideas for Responsible Marketers, ISSN 1747-3616, Vol. 13, no 2, 136-146 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to explore the functions of material possessions and economic resources in peer relationships among third grade children.

Design/methodology/approach – In total, 48 Swedish children aged nine were interviewed in focus groups, using a projective vignette technique and pictures. The children were asked if and how children in general could gain new friends through material possessions and money.

Findings – The findings indicate that children perceive possessions as multi-functional tools in peer relationships. The ability to fit into the peer group, by the use of different possessions, was perceived as especially important. Additionally, children perceived money as an altruistic tool to demonstrate kindness.

Research limitations/implications – This is a qualitative study and the results are based solely on ten focus groups.

Practical implications – This study implies that children's ability to fit into the peer group seems to be more important than the need to express individuality. Thus, it may be a challenge for social marketers, teachers, parents, and others to address children's consumption behavior as a factor strongly influenced by the peer group.

Originality/value – Previous research indicated that material possessions were important for children in order to gain popularity among peers. However, few studies have tried to investigate how children perceive the functions of material possessions and economic resources.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Emerald Group Publishing Limited, 2012
Keyword
children, consumption, economy, peers, friendship, barn, konsumtion, ekonomi, kompisar, vänskap
National Category
Sociology
Research subject
Economy; Economy, Marketing; Social Sciences, Gender Studies; Social Sciences, Social Work
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:lnu:diva-30734 (URN)10.1108/17473611211233477 (DOI)
Available from: 2013-11-26 Created: 2013-11-26 Last updated: 2014-12-09Bibliographically approved
3. Vänskap för pengar? Barns syn på konsumtion, i tre skilda bostadsområden
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Vänskap för pengar? Barns syn på konsumtion, i tre skilda bostadsområden
2014 (Swedish)In: Barn, ISSN 0800-1669, Vol. 32, no 1, 9-23 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [sv]

Konsumtion utgör ett betydande inslag i barns vardagsliv. Samtidigt präglas Sverige av en ekonomiskoch rumslig klyfta, vilket medför att det finns avsevärda skillnader i barns möjligheter att konsumera.Den här artikeln undersöker därför vilka föreställningar barn, i skilda uppväxtmiljöer, har kring viktenav konsumtion i deras gemenskaper med jämnåriga. Resultatet bygger på gruppintervjuer med 49 nioårigabarn, från tre olika skolor i en medelstor svensk stad, vilken präglas av en stark socioekonomisksegregering. Två huvudsakliga resultat kan återfinnas i empirin. Dels tycks det finnas en övergripandesyn på konsumtion och pengar som delades av de flesta barn från samtliga tre skolor. Men samtidigtfinns också indikationer på vissa skillnader mellan de tre grupperna.

Abstract [en]

The aim with this study was to investigate children’s perception of the meaning of consumption, in differentsocial groups, and to what extent these perceptions vary. Such knowledge is highly important inorder to understand children’s social life in a consumption society and, more generally, for understandingcontemporary childhood. In total, 49 Swedish children aged 9, from three different schools, wereinterviewed in focus groups, using a projective vignette technique and pictures. The children were askedif and how children in general could gain new friends through material possessions and money. Theresult demonstrates that most children expressed a materialistic way of thinking where consumptionwas seen as useful in order to gain recognition, status and inclusion. However, besides the similarities,some minor local differences seemed to exist between the schools.

Keyword
Children, economy, consumption, friendship, peers, tweens, Barn, ekonomi, konsumtion, tweens, pengar, vänskap
National Category
Social Work
Research subject
Social Sciences, Social Work
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:lnu:diva-34015 (URN)
Available from: 2014-04-27 Created: 2014-04-27 Last updated: 2015-04-17Bibliographically approved
4. Consumer research on tweens: putting the pieces together
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Consumer research on tweens: putting the pieces together
2011 (English)In: Young Consumers: Insight and Ideas for Responsible Marketers, ISSN 1747-3616, Vol. 12, no 4, 326-336 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to critically review Scandinavian research on tweens as consumers from the years 1990-2007.

Design/methodology/approach – In total, 35 studies were examined. Bronfenbrenner's bio-ecological perspective was used to depict what parts of children's lives had been investigated. The theory highlights different contexts and analytical levels in children's environments that may influence their consumer behavior.

Findings – Scandinavian research has mainly focused on the individual child as a consumer and on interpersonal relations. The societal transformations that gradually changes the Scandinavian countries seem to have been less investigated. In addition, there is a lack of Scandinavian consumer research on interaction between different contexts, such as parents and school, which may influence children's consumer behavior.

Research limitations/implications – This article has not critically reviewed each specific investigation in the field, but focused on the spread of aggregated Scandinavian research on tweens as consumers.

Practical implications – A more composite picture of consumption patterns among Scandinavian tweens is provided, which may be used as a guideline for educators, marketers and other professionals that interact with this age group.

Originality/value – Few attempts have been made to obtain a composite picture of Scandinavian consumer research on tweens. This question is of particular importance in times when the discourse of children's role in consumer society is changing, in order to understand the implications for future theoretical and empirical development in this dynamic field.

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Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
United Kingdom: Emerald Group Publishing Limited, 2011
Keyword
Consumption, children, tweens, economy, Konsumtion, barn, tweens, ekonomi
National Category
Social Work
Research subject
Social Sciences, Social Work
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:lnu:diva-15896 (URN)10.1108/17473611111185878 (DOI)
Available from: 2011-11-28 Created: 2011-11-28 Last updated: 2014-05-26Bibliographically approved

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