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Who Are You Calling Old? Negotiating Old Age Identity in the Elderly Consumption Ensemble

Michelle Barnhart and Lisa Peñaloza
Journal of Consumer Research
Vol. 39, No. 6 (April 2013), pp. 1133-1153
Published by: Oxford University Press
DOI: 10.1086/668536
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.1086/668536
Page Count: 21
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Who Are You Calling Old? Negotiating Old Age Identity in the Elderly Consumption Ensemble
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Abstract

As the elderly population increases, more family, friends, and paid service providers assist them with consumption activities in a group that the authors conceptualize as the elderly consumption ensemble (ECE). Interviews with members of eight ECEs demonstrate consumption in advanced age as a group phenomenon rather than an individual one, provide an account of how the practices and discourses of the ECE’s division of consumption serve as a means of knowing someone is old and positioning him/her as an old subject, and detail strategies through which older consumers negotiate their age identity when it conflicts with this positioning. This research (1) illuminates ways in which consumer agency in identity construction is constrained in interpersonal interactions, (2) demonstrates old identity as implicated in consumption in relation to and distinction from physiological ability and old subject position, and (3) updates the final stages of the Family Life Cycle model.

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