Consumers' Transformations in a Liquid Society: Introducing the Concepts of Autobiographical-Concern and Desire-Assemblage

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Authors

Abstract

In our fast-paced world, consumers are increasingly exposed to transformation, for instance, in the form of divorce or emigration. These transformations are associated with a willingness to embrace changes in personal consumption. From a temporal perspective, contemporary consumer research on transformations has favoured one point of view - past or future - such as the research done on possible future selves or on feelings of nostalgia.
However, a more integrated perspective, in which both past and future become dynamically involved in ensuring individual life continuity, still seems to be lacking. It is our belief that the philosophical concepts of existential hermeneutics and narrative identity can stimulate researchers into closing this research gap.
According to existential hermeneutics, human beings are essentially self-interpreters. They deal with the nature of their own existence by disclosing their personal possibilities and updating former experiences in new life contexts. This self-interpreter condition is articulated in the multiple self-narratives that an individual can construct. The narrative acts as a form of support in the process of constructing a personal identity, by offering stability and continuity to the fragmented life experiences of a rapidly mutating world.
Based on these philosophical concepts, the specific goal of this paper is to propose two major implications for research on consumer life transformations: the autobiographical-concern – the existential preoccupation of making a personal life-narrative coherent by interpreting simultaneously one’s own personal past and future − and the understanding of desire as being a constructivist exercise − desire-assemblage − that may accompany this phenomenon.

Key words: Life-transition, liquid society, narrative identity, existential hermeneutics, autobiographical-concern and desire-assemblage.

Details

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)126-138
JournalJournal of Consumer Behaviour
Volume9
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 29 Mar 2010

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