Coming of age in contemporary consumer culture
Drenten, Jenna Marie
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In contributing to this emerging stream of consumer culture literature, the purpose of my dissertation is to explore the intersection between consumption practices and identity development throughout adolescence, specifically among teenage girls. To that end, this dissertation consists of two essays, each exploring the transitional role of consumption practices in adolescent girls’ identity development. The first essay explores adolescent identity tensions and coming of age consumption practices between childhood and adulthood. Data include written identity narratives and accompanying collages from 42 female participants. Based on findings, I develop a framework of tensions in liminal identity development and identify how market-mediated milestones play a role in negotiating such tensions. The second essay explores how social media (e.g., Facebook) serves as a platform for adolescent identity development through sharing consumption practices and performing market-mediated milestones online. This study employs a combined qualitative approach of visual photograph analysis and extended depth interviews. The data suggest that teenagers, both individually and collectively, display their identities and culturally shared meanings through mobile photo uploading on social media. Findings reveal identity-oriented characteristics of shared mobile photos and identity-oriented motivations for mobile photo sharing. Each essay presents a thorough literature review, methodological approach, supporting empirical evidence, and discussion of the marketing contribution.