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Susanne Friese

Self-concept and identity in a
consumer society

Aspects of symbolic product meaning

ISBN 978-3-8288-8194-5
305 Seiten, Paperback
Tectum Verlag 2000
25,90 €
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Self-concept and identity in a consumer society


The central theme of this book concerns an increasingly prevalent consequence of modern consumer society - the addiction to buying. Despite often serious social, psychological and economic consequences, addictive consumption continues to be generally regarded as a somewhat marginal problem: "Oh yeah, my neighbour, she is a bit crazy about shopping. She's a shopaholic." Popular media portrayal of the issue has also tended to trivialise and sensationalise certain aspects of excessive, or compulsive consumption. The occasional column inches dedicated to a description of excessive credit card 'abuse' or bold headline proclamations concerning the latest 'consumption frenzy' often only serve to reinforce and reassert common misperceptions about the causes, 'victims' and consequences of addictive consumption. The present examination aims to help dispel many of the myths that surround consumption related addictions by considering their cultural, historical and social antecedents. The emergence and development of consumer society and the important role that product symbolism plays in our lives and its relation to the self-concept and identity are given in-depth consideration. This provides a detailed context from which to review the functions and motivations underlying impulsive and compensatory buying behaviours, which for some can develop into an addiction. The final chapter of the book contains a number of biographies of addicted buyers describing their personal consumption experiences. Their full storys in anonymous form can be obtained on a CD-ROM, which also includes the data analysis for the interested reader to examine.