Helsingin yliopisto


Helsingin yliopiston verkkojulkaisut

Helsingin yliopisto, Helsinki 2006

Kuluttajuuden rakentuminen nuorten kertomuksissa

Minna Autio

Väitöskirja, toukokuu 2006.
Helsingin yliopisto, maatalous-metsätieteellinen tiedekunta, taloustieteen laitos, kuluttajaekonomia.

This study examines the narrative construction of consumerism in Finnish consumer culture in the early 21st century. The objects of the study are consumer life stories and essays on environmentally friendly consumption, written by 15-19-year-old high school students. Moreover, group discussions were used as additional research material. The data was gathered at five high schools in different areas of Finland. Young people's consumer narratives are interpreted through cultural stories and consumer ethos such as self-control, gratification and green consumerism. The narrative research approach is used to analyse what types of consumer positions these young people construct in stories on their own consumer history, and what kinds of ideas and thought patterns they construct on green consumerism.

The study creates a multifaceted image of young people as agents in consumer society. They construct archetypical stories of wastrels and scrooges, as well as prudent and environmentally friendly consumers. Consumption and expenditure are however mostly a continuous battle between self-control and giving in to gratification. This reality is illustrated among other things by clever expressions invented by young people, such as Carefree Pennywise, Prudent Hedonist and Wasteful Scrooge. In their narratives, young people also analyse the usefulness - or uselessness - of their decisions on consumption, as well as develop themselves into controlling and sensible consumers. This kind of virtuous consumer allows him/herself the joy and the gratification of consumption, as long as these are "kept in check".

One's view of expenditure and consumption is not permanent. Consumerism may alter with time. A wastrel may grow up to be a young person in control of their desires, or a thrifty child may awaken to the pleasures of consumption in their teens. Consumerism may also be polyphonic: it may simultaneously - and even uncomplicatedly - be constructed upon the discourses of wastefulness, prudence, gratification and green consumerism. Young people allow for gratification to form a part of green consumerism, too: it is not simply restrictive self-denial. They also see many hurdles in the way of green consumerism, such as the elevated price of ecological products, and the difficulties of green consumer practices. The stories also show the gender division in green consumerism. For young men, ecological considerations offer elements for the construction of consumerism only on the very rare occasion, whereas striving for day-to-day green practices is typical for young women.

The title page of the publication

Julkaisu on tekijänoikeussäännösten alainen. Teosta voi lukea ja tulostaa henkilökohtaista käyttöä varten. Käyttö kaupallisiin tarkoituksiin on kielletty.

© Helsingin yliopisto 2006

Viimeksi päivitetty 19.04.2006

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