Research in Consumer Behavior: Consumer Culture Theory
Emerald Group Publishing Limited
This chapter explores the symbolic connections between coming of age liminality and identity-oriented consumption practices in postmodern American culture, specifically among adolescent girls. Methodology/approach
Forty-two female participants (ages 20–23) participants were asked to answer the general question of “Who am I?” through creating identity collages and writing accompanying narrative summaries for each of three discrete life stages: early adolescence (past-self), late adolescence (present-self), and adulthood (future-self). Data were analyzed using a hermeneutical approach. Findings
Coming of age in postmodern American consumer culture involves negotiating paradoxical identity tensions through consumption-oriented benchmarks, termed “market-mediated milestones.” Market-mediated milestones represent achievable criteria by which adolescents solidify their uncertain liminal self-concepts. Research implications
In contrast to the traditional Van Gennepian conceptualization of rites of passage, market-mediated milestones do not necessarily mark a major transition from one social status to another, nor do they follow clearly defined stages. Market-mediated milestones help adolescents navigate liminality through an organic, nonlinear, and incremental coming of age process. Practical implications
Rather than traditional cultural institutions (e.g., church, family), the marketplace is becoming the central cultural institution around which adolescent coming of age identity is constructed. As such, organizations have the power to create market-mediated milestones for young people. In doing so, organizations should be mindful of adolescent well-being. Originality/value
This research marks a turning point in understanding traditional rites of passage in light of postmodern degradation of cultural institutions. The institutions upon which traditional rites of passage are based have changed; therefore, our conceptions of what rites of passage are today should change as well.
Drenten, Jenna M.. The Role of Market-Mediated Milestones in Negotiating Adolescent Identity Tensions. Research in Consumer Behavior: Consumer Culture Theory, 15, : 97-122, 2014. Retrieved from Loyola eCommons, School of Business: Faculty Publications and Other Works,
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