Events that Impact on Our Lives

Events that impact on our life, such as important transformations, are typical moments that bring us to ‘rewrite` our life projects in order to follow new perspectives, from which we appraise our story line. Divorce, expatriation, marriage, motherhood, retirement and social mobility are typical events leading to such transformation. These alternative appraisals, or perspectives, confront us with the question: Do I want to continue with the current version of my personal narrative or do I want to strengthen other paths in my life? Some research has shown that consumers transitioning into such a new life stage (e.g. retirement or motherhood, Schau et al., 2009; Rojas Gaviria & Bluemelhuber, 2011) often heavily draw upon/retrieve past selves for constructing their current and future consumer identities. For example, a person entering retirement may try to revive a past athletic identity as a basketball player (requiring him/her to purchase appropriate equipment) that had to be shelved/repressed for a long time due to more production-oriented obligations in terms of work. Similarly, immigrants who have fully adapted to the local culture of their host country, may retrieve aspects of their former home country identities when becoming a parent and incorporating these into their children’s education and upbringing (e.g. by re-decorating their homes trying to imitate the interior design of their own upbringing in their native country before expatriation). Other examples detail consumers transitioning from high school to college and their reliance on possessions that symbolize the past in order to provide stability during times of heavy turmoil and stress (e.g. by keeping a teddy bear from childhood). This dissertation project should further study past selves to determine the situations in which past selves are likely to be retrieved for current and future identity projects. Are some past selves destined to be left permanently and some to be revisited? Why and when do consumers choose to revive past identity projects rather than start new projects? Due to being embedded in interpretive consumer research’s widely known brand of organization and theorization – Consumer Culture Theory (CCT, Arnould & Thompson, 2005) – this study should make use of a qualitative approach to data collection (e.g. long interviews, focus groups, netnography)

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